Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

I can’t help it

Looking ahead to 2008, I mean.

At the moment, I can’t imagine that national security won’t be the biggest issue. At the moment, I also can’t imagine that anyone closely connected with the Bush Administration could win. But I also can’t imagine that the Kossacks will let anyone on the Democratic side with a sensible approach to national security policy come close to getting the nomination. (I find myself--shudder!--hoping that HRC gets the nomination, because I think she actually stands a better chance of ultimately being sensible on these matters than do any of her currently likely opponents. Lots of other stuff would be awful, to be sure, but we might still be relatively safe, in part because she’s brazen enough to pay lip service to the netroots and then think for herself. Indeed, with her in office, I’d worry more about Congress.)

Which brings me to the Republicans. Right now, 2008 looks like it might be the year of the "independent" on the Republican side, which means McCain among those with close D.C. ties and Giuliani for those who don’t have them. I know, I know, Giuliani has baggage, as does McCain. McCain has begun to try to mend his fences with religious conservatives, and Giuliani is trying to figure out how to talk the talk. Given the likely general election options, and the likely high national security stakes, I don’t think that religious conservatives will sit on their hands.

And if evangelicals are indeed softening, I have just the ticket: McCain or Giuliani, with Joe Lieberman.

Update: RCP’s Tom Bevan notes lots of speculation about McCain-Lieberman. I’ll take Austin Bay and Michael Barone, and even David Brooks, but Andrew Sullivan???

Discussions - 25 Comments

How can you NLTers be looking at 2008 when you can’t even see 2006. I don’t know about you Joe, but the general NLT election forcast is dead wrong. Wake up and realize that its a bad GOP year, and unless Gingrich takes over the party right now it ain’t gonna change. We will probably lose the House, or hold it by such a slim 1 or 2 seats that we end up cutting a deal with Democrats to govern it--like the Senate in 2000. Ohio is a mess and Blackwell needs a miracle. Its pretty obvious when many political pundits have Ohio ranked as the 2nd most likely state for the governorship to switch parties in. Yes, even Kerry Healey has a better chance of winning Taxachusetts than Blackwell does in OH. With him, Taft, and state corruption dragging down the ticket, we’ll be lucky to save DeWine from the goofball known as Sherrod Brown.

It’s realism, and if we are to prepare for the future we need to realize the craphole that we are in now.

But I love guessing at politics too. Giuliani has as good a shot in 08 as Blackwell. Both are good candidates, but are just wrong for the electorate; so forget’em. No one trusts McCain, but he’s still the frontrunner. Look for McCain-Pawlenty for an unbeatable ’08 GOP ticket. It could be a 50 stater if McCain is the nominee and he gets to take on Feingold, who is certainly riding high in the wake of Tuesday.

Lieberman is a Democrat and will not become enough of an independent by ’08 to be either a worthy or a politically smart choice for a GOP ticket. Also, he wouldn’t take it.

C’mon, it’s going to be President McCain in ’08, the only question is whether J.Kenneth or Jeb Bush will be the VP.

I don’t get why the evangelicals or anyone else would be happy to see Lieberman on the ticket, admirable as he is in some ways. He’s basically a liberal and didn’t campaign well at all last time he was vp nominee, and in fact he hasn’t campaigned well in his presnet senate race. McCain is too old, all over the map in a self-righteous way, and has never actually run anything. The only thing that recommends Giuliani is that he has run something well, but virtually none of his actual views are conservative. I doubt G. could win the primaries. My conclusion: A real outsider...

While Peter’s prognostications are not always correct (remember Wesley Clark? I do.), in this case I agree, at least to the extent that neither McCain nor (especially) Guiliani passes the social conservative litmus tests (which I share!), so a darkhorse - Brownback, Peter? - is what SC’s are looking for. Winning recipe? Tough on terror, pro-life (including stem-cell research), pro-traditional family & values, pro-business but "doing something about illegal immigration," at least aware of deficits, and a few other things. Being able to speak fairly articulately would be a big help.

But Paul, Peter is quite right about the problems the conservative hinterlands, (where I live) have with both McCain and Guiliani. Honestly, it something the Republican Party is being perceived as "foisting upon" the socially and politically conservative right end of the party, again. That is, primarily electing a candidate that is not going to support their ideology/values while trying to appeal to the uncommitted "moderate" voter thought to exist in some vague territory between the parties, or in those supposed fringes of the parties that value non-ideological politics.

To quote myself from a comment below:
"My plaintive cries for a saleable conservative candidate is precisely because I do not see one anywhere. John McCain is all well and good and may be a decent enough person, or even an exemplary one, as I have heard explained. However, he is not interested in, or is not espousing, the conservative ideals I find compelling." Nor is that true of my friends and neighbors out here, despite this

I’m rather fond of Brownback, but he’d probably remind too many people of the current President.

I share the concerns regarding McCain and Giuliani, but also regard national security as perhaps the most pressing issue. Are there any socons out there who are solid on national security and not too close to the current administration?

Looks like I may be a little late on this, but why no talk of Romney? He’s easily saleable, and solidly conservative. He’s dealt well politically in a state some would call "hostile" to conservative values. He’s articulate. Is his religion the issue? I’d love to hear all of your thoughts.

Is it that RCP’s Tom Bevan has gone over the edge in even mentioning Andrew Sullivan - who is shunned by conservatives, whatever the topic? And "even David Brooks"?

I was trying to be cute about Brooks, who I don’t read any more, now that he’s behind the TimesSelect firewall. I actually like him, for the most part.

Sullivan, however, is another story....

National security etc. may be the most important issue, although it’s harder than the experts think to know how it will divide the country in 08. As Joe says, Ms. Clinton wouldn’t seem so irresponsible and is fact liked well enough by much of our military leadership. I doubt that, by itself, national security is a winning issue for the Republicans. Even in 04, my sense is that Bush was reelected DESPITE Iraq. What is loosely call "neconservatism" is at this point very unpopular everywhere but among the Fox talking heads, and a Republican victory would depend on "polarizing" the country around the "social conservative" issues connected with opposing "judicial activism." In principle, the Republicans need a moderate but genuinly principled form of Brownback combined with the law and order toughness and competence of Giuliani (which can easily be distinguished from the tough and self-righteous talk of McCain). McCain-Lieberman, my guess is, would be a disaster--because the ticket wouldn’t resonate at all in the sticks and the exurbs on the issues Paul mentioned. (I was just at a conference of a fairly diverse group of young conservative academics, and they were pretty divided on McCain, some saying that they would never vote for him.) Brownback himself would be too polarizing, although lots of conservatives would have little trouble not confusing him with the current president. Of all the possibilities mentioned, I too would go with Romney; he’s certainly both competent and moderately socially conservative. (What about C. Rice?) But my real advice to you all would be to keep thinking.

Let’s at least get Sen. George Allen’s name on the table for discussion, assuming he wins his ’06 re-election contest strongly. Out here in the Mountain West he’s largely an unknown quanity (as is Brownback, whom I like A LOT). Allen seems to be thoroughgoingly conservative on all fronts. Articulate (I know: that’s a relative term in the age of "W".). Telegenic enough. And the cowboy boots may scare the Islamofascists while endearing himself to voters in say, Ohio.
Question about Romney: did/does his Mormon faith cause him to pull an "Orrin Hatch" WRT ESCR? There’s {apparently} something about Mormon doctrine that allowed (urged?) Hatch to suppport federal funding, while otherwise being solidly pro-life. I’m just wondering about Romney on this. I’m still undecided whether Romney’s Mormon faith will be the Achilles heel that many predict with regard to his ability to attract the large (and more importantly, ACTIVE) evangelical vote. Any tell-tale signs as to whom Richard Land is touting, or tolerating? That could be a portent of who might be able to both gain the Repub nomination and win the general. Guiliani (definitely) and McCain (likely) can’t win the primary, even if the GWOT is going poorly. "Values" voters (who are determinative in the Repub nominating process, even if not a majority within the party) won’t compromise on the life issues because they see it as right in principle AND winning politically.
All bets are off on the above description/prediction if Iran goes nuclear.
Now off for a bike ride along the beautiful Rio Grande river, looking skyward for hot air balloons practicing for the Balloon Fiesta. No segue intended......

Gary’s right on Iran etc. Right now I hear, don’t vote for McCain, he’ll invade Iran, Syria, and God knows where else (and with what army?). But events could change the public perception: Vote for McCain because only he has the guts to invade Iran! George Allen, like the president, is a son of a famous and noble man, has a lot of the soutnern frat boy around him, is fairly inarticulate, and clearly didn’t finish first in his class. He could easily be viewed as having the weaknesses of our president without his strengths--his heart and his guts. Values voters, like everyone else, have to compromise some: The Mormon view on the "life" issues would produce very significant improvements in our public policy. I’m not denying that thy’re strange and far from completely right. And who can deny that the Romney’s Mormonism might well be a fatal flaw in his candidacy? Allen’s not what we need! (You shouldn’t wear cowboy boys unless you’re actually or really or truly a cowbody.) Keep thinking!

What’s with this Brownback infatuation? This is the guy that wants to build a museum with taxpayer dollars because God gave him a dream about it. HELLO...doesn’t anyone remember.

George Allen is way too much like Bush to win it seems. The whole country is fatigued.

Romney is not solidly conservative. He is a pragmatic guy who just 4 years ago was supporting Roe v. Wade and passing out pink flyers welcoming people to a gay parade. He also has the unusual advantage of being able to craft his record as governor because he knows that the opposing party will overide his vetoes. Therefore, he can veto things that he secretly supports, knowing that the legislature will add it back in all while he ducks responsibility. Then there’s the fact that he is basically a cult member...

So McCain is what’s left everytime I think about it. He’s like a rock on national security, which as Joe points out is most important. Domestically he is more anti big government than Bush. The weakness is his occasional disregard for the constitution and his moderate social stances.

A bit of Romney-defense: while running - as a well-known social conservative and Morman! - for governor of Massachusetts he promised not to attack or alter its pro-choice legislation and after election he kept his word. He didn’t have a snowball’s chance of changing anything in Massachusetts, so he wisely took the issue off the table. He made his pro-life views well known, though. But his position on stem-cell research is great (as is his defense of marriage): he’s the most articulate (semi-)national politician we have on stem-cell research, and his wife’s condition gives him enormous credibility on it. He is really socially conservative. Also, women like to look at him, even - or especially - with his wife by his side.
I don’t find his Mormanism disqualifying at all (and I don’t see how it entered into Orrin Hatch’s flip-flop: OH just became an low-grade empiricist on the matter: a clump of stuff in a petrie dish and all that.). Plus, don’t forget: presidents come from governerships, the executive branch, not the legislature. What he’s doing with the Big Dig will burnish his credentials as being pro-active about safety. (I know it’s not Guiliani-calibre, but who is?)

Paul--Romney may be personally pro-life, though he is not as solid as Bush, but the real issue is that he doesn’t seem to have the gumption to do anything serious about it in the public sphere. He agreed with Roe v. Wade despite his "personal" convictions. I understand he’s from Taxachusetts, but he has campaigned as a moderate always, before his recent track to the right to pony up for the primary.

He is as you say articulate, good-looking, and I think very intelligent. His family and personal life seem to recommend him more than the other major candidates. While governors are the place to run from currently (only because there records are harder to trace), Romney is a scary governor because he has an extremely small record because of his legislatures ability to take over his executive power by super-majority. The only records we really can nail him on our what he says, which is great for running, but scary for us especially given his flip-flops.

Finally, his religion is an issue (not necessarily for me) when it comes to winning. The Mormon faith is at least very strange and given there past (and current) polygamy, and their racism in denying black bishops into the 70s will be easy issues for the media to twist into scare stories. I think that his religion makes it next to impossible for him to win, but if anyone can do it, it would be Romney. Personally I’m still deciding about whether or not I could vote for him because of his religion. I would like to discount it, but its hard because the Mormon faith is strange and occultic. I’m not ashamed, nor do I think it wrong to search for a protestant candidate.

Paul makes the all the relevant good points about Romney. The argument that McCain is more of a social conservative than Romney won’t fly, let me add. And the Mormons ain’t a cult!

Peter--McCain doesn’t have to be more socially conservative than Romney. I’m just refuting Romney’s supposed social conservatism. McCain’s strength is foreign policy and spending; he just needs to get by socially. Romney is weaker on foreign policy and spending, so to be legit he is the one who needs to be socially hardcore, and he just isn’t.

As for Mormonism being a cult... is an interesting list of some of their doctrines. They certainly cloak themselves as Christian, but they are not what they seem. Common, Jesus giving prophecies in America, a whole new religious book, an order to polygamy, a way to save those already dead, and the promise of becoming a god with your own planet...sounds on the edge of a cult to me.

Regardless of our reasoned discussion; the public will not elect of Mormon on passion--as my roomate--a moderate who was interested in Romney as a GOPer in a blue state--said when I told him about Romney’s relgion, "F*** that. I ain’t voting for no Mormon. I only want one first lady." Right or wrong, reasonable or unreasonable Romney’s religion is too much to overcome. And while I don’t agree with passioned anti-Mormonism, I think that there are good reasons in the end that the religion is to be avoided.

Fact: the Mormons believe that Joseph Smith was guided by an angel named "Moroni."

Does that mean that Mormonism is "moronic"?

Bro Paul:
I must respectfully disagree with you on Orrin Hatch’s flip-flop. I read somewhere (but cannot cite sources) that Mormon doctrine gave Hatch the cover he needed (and apparently wanted) to vote for federal funding of ESCR. I’ll do a little research. If I find anything that supports my speculation, I’ll post it. If not, then......I’ll also post it. It’s only the truth that sets us free. So, Romney publicly opposed taxpayer funded ESCR? That’s welcome news.
The whole issue/discussion of whether Mormonism is a cult or not is fraught with peril, mainly because most of us have friends or acquaintances who are Mormon. Most of them are wonderful folks, many of whom put us to shame with the actual practice of their family lives. But........when you look Mormon doctrine, then at minimum you must conclude that it’s not Christian by any orthodox definition (is that a tautology?)....and, in common sense terms - measured against ordinary orthodoxy - it *is* a cult. (Sorry, PL.) But I’d love to strip away the pejorative connotation because of my high regard for the character of so many Mormons whom I know. But, doctrinally, it is what it is. Pulling Nomex suit on now.
To end on an agreeable note, I agree with my sage brother that Romney’s faith is not intrisically disqualifying. A serious Romney candidacy might just provide the occasion for a principled national conversation on the founding, and the proper role of faith in politics.
BTW, there were ten hot-air balloons up flying this morning over the Rio Grande. :-)

John, Thanks for your very thoughtful comment. I just had dinner with a small group of conservatives. I asked them about Romney, Giuliani, and McCain. Again--division on McCain. Nobody denies that he’s solid in the sense of very hawkish on defense, but there’s a good amount of skepticism about his prudence and his social conservatism. Everbody admires the can do Giuliani, and one man had evidence from his NYC educational policy that he really was a social conservative. Another said that all he would have to do is to promise to appt. conservative or judicial restraint judges and he would be more than acceptable--because he’s a man who can be trusted to act on what he says. In general, if the choice is btwn McC and G, the edge is to G. On Romney--he’s not that well known and so the general mood is wait and see. The importance of being Mormon may depend mainly on how he handles the issue. And to Gary, well, ok, from a certain technical view Mormonism is a cult, but as you also say that we don’t impose the standard of orthodoxy on presidential candidates.
What’s better? A faithful cultist with strong and sensible moral prinicples or someone who seems not to believe at all.

America will have come a LONG way in the area of religious tolerance if a Mormon can become president. Can you think of another religion wherein folks were killed in America, and driven from cities and states on account of doctrinal belief? And Gary is quite right that Mormonism is not orthodox Christianity. Not that the average, modern guy on the street knows or cares anything about the orthodoxy of Mormonism. However, did you guys see this?
poll? It looks like a problem for Gov. Romney to me. Now, if the Democrats ran a Muslim, he would have a good chance.

Well it will no doubt be much debated in the coming year, as it has been here. It is of course too soon to be sure about any of this, so I will keep an open (somewhat) mind about them all. Currently my top 5 in order of who I prefer is McCain, Huckabee (who is the real religious conservative--not Brownback), Romney, Allen, Giuliani, but it’s a lot of guesswork.

Peter--I sense the same thing in polls and voters that Giuliani is higher than McCain. However Giuliani has no organization and seems to be more vulnerable to the tear down smear campaign. McCain has already made it through this once nationally and despite his loss he survived. Romney really is the wildcard of those 3 because mainly of his religion. In the end, I think McCain prevails. He hails from AZ, not the stuffy northeast. I really don’t think Giuliani will be able to connect with the southern religious base and the Bush-Cheney machine that McCain is so aptly taking over. Romney’s faith and personality make him capable perhaps of working in this environment (or it could hurt him), but he lacks the name recognition of McCain and Giuliani.

Time will tell. Sometimes I just hope that someone i’ve never heard of comes from no where and grabs keep searching.

John, I agree that Huckabee deserves a closer look. That Ozark-sounding name is bound to hurt him, though. I really do think that both G. and McC. are not really "independent outsiders" but closer to the "discredited politics of the past." Yesterday’s news... So I also agree: Let’s keep searching.

But H. would have the "I HEART Huckabee" bumper stickers going for him.

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