Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Tavern Talk

I’ve been visiting taverns lately, and last night I gave a talk to about 50 men, followed by a long conversation. The vast majority are still unenthusiastic about the GOP field. Yet, patterns are starting to take shape, more complete and thoughtful opinions are starting to form. They have seen enough to think the following: 1) Guilliani is finished; he shouldn’t have tried to pull the inside straight. 2) Too bad that Thompson couldn’t make a go of it, but there is something to be said about ambition, and he should have revealed more of it; also, he should not have let his wife get involved in his campaign; he should have acted like the man he appeared to be before his campaign started. 3) Even his initial supporters now admit that Huckabee is too incomplete to be president, although they liked his feisty ability to gab. 4) The more moderate and business oriented conservatives are moving toward Romney; they are now saying that his steady competence is worth something. 5) Those that are most deeply concerned about the terror war like McCain, for the reasons Rich Lowry notes; heroic character will keep us safe, besides, he’ll probably be forced to move right for the general campaign (including having a more conservative running mate) and he will keep his promises. Anyway, they are convinced that after Florida they will have to choose between Romney and McCain.

And last, although they are not surprised by the Clintons’ viciousness in general, they are in awe of its fierceness and boldness and baseness toward Obama; and none of them thought Hillary would have this kind of Sister Souljah moment, especially before South Carolina. Somebody said that this is like watching the Sopranos. They now think that the GOP actually may have a slightly better chance in November, maybe a five percent better chance, but still not 50-50.

Discussions - 12 Comments

The more moderate and business oriented conservatives are moving toward Romney; they are now saying that his steady competence is worth something.

I wonder if his big government promises to the auto industry in Michigan, and his tax breaks to the old folks in Florida, will make them think twice...O wait, I almost forgot "business oriented conservatives" are really opportunists - if it is flowing their way - and "conservative" when it's not. Does that make them "populist"?

Interesting that they're in "awe" at the Clintons. The Clintons understand that the purpose of political power is to advance an agenda, to reward friends and to absolutely crush opponents. That insight is something wholly lost on the posing and the posturing Bush family, which elevates Blue Blood attitudes over the best interest of their political party, and what's worse, their country. When personal style imprints and sears itself into the mind and soul of a political party, that party will soon lose sight of it's raison d'etre. Which is to organize, articulate and amplify the message of its members.

The Clintons are utterly ruthless, and it will take someone possessed of equal ferocity to utterly destroy them. McCain hasn't a clue what he's going to face if he gets that nomination.

Interesting that McCain is supported both by those most fixed on fighting in Iraq, and also by those opposed to it.

One explanation is that the anti-war liberals who support him are willing to trade the war for other things they expect to get if he is elected.

Contrary to what some here believe, the left wing blogs think he would appoint judges they could live with.

they are now saying that his steady competence is worth something.

Ditto Christopher's comment. We should also note that Romney's competence in government is limited to four years as governor. He wasn't terribly effective, he raised fees $500 million, and had no political responsibility. The latter issue makes it hard to judge his political competence. The MA legislature had override majority, effectively taking both the legislative and executive leadership when they thought necessary. One could question whether Mitt has any government experience at all.

Mr. Schramm - what sort of tavern is it these days where you can -even by chance- speak to only men? Is it like an American Legion hall or something (the last one of those I was in still allowed the ladies via the Legion auxiliary)? If an all-male audience is unenthusiastic about the field from the Party of Manliness, the GOP, then what do you suppose the (apparently cloistered) womenfolk of the area are thinking?

When you speak at these taverns are you a representative of the Ashbrook Center, the Republican Party, both? Or do these talks just occur completely spontaneously, as one might imagine they would in the days of America's Founding?

I appreciate Craig Scanlon stopping by to remind me of what mindless PC bigots the left are.

Hello John, nice to meet you, too! I would love to hear your explanation as to how my asking those questions is in any way a display of bigotry. (I'll just dismiss the "mindless PC" part as hollow ad hominem).

I honestly do want to know what sort of taverns have an all-male clientele. I am genuinely curious as to what particular sort of demographic Mr. Schramm was speaking to/with. Are we talking about a meeting of a private club at a bar normally open to the public, or is it some member's only establishment? My father was in the American Legion, and my grandfather in the Lion's Club, but I think women, in one capacity or another were often in their meeting halls. I'm trying to think of what clubs these days are exclusively for men... If it's a public tavern open to all, but only men happen to be there, well...was Larry Craig there, asking if anyone had seen his wife? (teehee)

Craig, when you assume, you make an ass of you and ....

Well, you make an ass of you anyway.

I am genuinely curious as to what particular sort of demographic Mr. Schramm was speaking to/with.

Since you have found us out, I guess Peter won't mind me spilling the beans. We are all part of an extreme right-ring cult which admits only white males. And "Schramm" is clearly a German name. My own last name happens to be "Hitler".

But I bet you suspected all this, right?

I don't think Peter meant to say that he gave a talk to 50 men at a tavern. He's setting these out as two places where he's been discussing politics with ordinary people--at taverns, and at a talk he gave the other night. Although I have no idea what group he addressed, it may have been the Ashland Young Business Men's Association, which really is all-male (although its members, I have to say, didn't strike me as particularly young). That organization brings in speakers for each of its meetings; I know because I had the honor of being one last year.

John Moser - Thank you, seriously, for the straightforward answer. I was curious and my curiosity's been sated. And if/since I have your attention, let me note, by the way, that I made a late comment, with questions, on your "What's a Classical Liberal to do?" post; any answers you could offer over there would also be appreciated.

So, young businessmen are firmly within the "ordinary people" category? I'd love to see a list of what demographic groups are and are not currently ordinary people. Could be fun.

John (the other one) - your behavior has slipped from rude to oddly paranoid. No, I had not thought or suspected that Mr. Schramm had addressed an "extreme right-ring cult which admits only white males." Probably such cults exist (although the neo-Nazi groups have been a lot more open to women in recent years - is that progress?), but I guess I was giving Mr. Schramm the benefit of the doubt. I don't know YOU at all, however. If you tell me your last name is Hitler, okay, fine. Whatever.

Craig, by "ordinary" I meant people other than the academics, pundits, and political junkies who frequent this site. And if you'll check that other threat, you'll see that I've responded to your comment.

I agree with Christopher's assessment of Mr. Romney's economic plan - the one that is built into his "DNA" if I remember correctly. I was fascinated that Mr. McCain told Michigan-folk that the auto jobs aren't coming back, while Mr. Romney promised to fight for every job - a promise, incidentally, that we know he cannot keep.


In Florida, the same pandering was on display. Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Romney both talked about hazard/flood insurance as if it were a fundamental right, i.e., a right so precious that the federal government should address it. Mr. McCain joined the party, too, albeit from a different perspective. (Ironic that Republicans don't take the same stance with health insurance...)


I suspect that Mr. Romney might be slightly better on the economy, but it's difficult to know for sure.


Lastly, I have to take issue with this comment from John: "Contrary to what some here believe, the left wing blogs think he would appoint judges they could live with."


For all the railings against the "Gang of 14", I think that Mr. McCain's prudence should be commended. By all accounts, Republicans are pleased with Justices Roberts and Alito. The compromise also allowed confirmation of other judges Republicans are fond of (J. Priscilla Owen on the Fifth Circuit comes to mind).


I am not sure any of us knows whether either party won as a result of the "Gang of 14." I do believe our nation benefited; the confirmation of our judges for a lifetime appointment should not be a political spectacle.

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