Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Today’s Random Observations

1. The new national Gallup poll has Huck at 25% and Romney at 9%. Huck has put a little distance between himself and the field. That will disappear if McCain wins big tonight, but John, remember, stinks as a front-runner. (And Huck has a really big lead in South Carolina and is competitive in Michigan.) Romney is surely toast if NH doesn’t give him "Comeback Kid" momentum. The polls from NH show, if anything, the end of the McCain surge and a slight Mitt comeback. I think John will win, but maybe not that impressively, and only if Obama sucks up all the independents with his hope and love will Mitt’s mere respect be enough for him to win. I still think there’s no way Huck can prevail on February 5, but we may not be thrilled with having to choose between Mike and John.

2. On the Republican side, Obama has pulled even, Mr. Gallup says, with Senator Clinton. And of course he’ll emerge with a big lead after his big victory tonight. So much for national strategies. Remember when people thought the campaign would be Hillary and Rudy trying to drive up each other’s negatives?

3. Speaking of Giuliani, on the TODAY SHOW this morning he showed once again that his "message" is completely inadequate to the task at hand. Low taxes, limited government, and staying on the offensive against terrorism is not nearly enough to put together a winning coalition against an amazingly charismatic candidate who promises to replace fear with hope. (Republicans really, really have to start to LEARN from their "vertical" man from Hope.) Rudy might have beaten Hillary, but he’s irrelevant now.

4. Republicans are gloating with no good reason over poor Hillary’s demise. She would have been easier to beat and a much better president than Obama. She would have, for example, acted responsibly in Iraq and General Petraeus and our military in general could have worked well with her.

5. Thr single most likely outcome in Novemeber is the election of President Obama with significantly enhanced majorities in both houses of Congress. Obama’s audacious transcendence of ideology with hope is, of course, more apparent than real, but it’s pretty darn apparent. And, believe or not, this ain’t Huck’s fault.

Discussions - 7 Comments

For some time now, Peter, I have told almost anyone who will listen that you really are not thano-centric. But this time you may have crossed the Rubicon. A motivational speaker in chief as the most likely President in November?—that is a dark prediction. Do you not think that at some time in the primary process the Democrats will realize that when the time actually comes to elect President they need to put forward someone who actually has something to say? Once the giddiness from all the Christmas and New Year’s eggnog wears off, is it not more likely that Democrats will be forced to calculate that to win the White House Hillary is the safer bet?

I have another question . . . what does all of this say about the terribly LONG campaign season we've had in this primary? It now appears that despite (or perhaps, because of) the long season, the selection of candidates can change on a dime. And while a part of me derives great satisfaction from watching Hillary Clinton take her lumps when she was so sure she'd be gathering laurels, I agree with you, Peter, when you say that she would have been easier to beat and a better president than Obama. At this point (though it appears things can change very quickly) I'd have to say that in a race between Huck and McCain--with Obama as the assumed opposition--you have to pick (though I do so grudgingly) Huck just on the off-chance that he may have the stuff to beat Obama. He'd certainly be a better president than Obama (though I think his heterodoxy and his incomplete orthodoxy--combined with his huge temptation to talk too much--hurts the future of the GOP in many ways). On the other hand, there is the possibility that he could "grow" in office--in the good sense. I probably prefer McCain in the abstract . . . but the match up between that old duffer and Obama looks pretty bad to me. Michael Medved is betting that people will see through Obama when they contrast him to McCain. I doubt it. People won't call what McCain displays gravitas (especially in light of his tendency to petulance and his all-too-apparent disdain for his competition); they'll just call him a crotchety old coot.

Peter, this is all good stuff. I wonder if the Republicans will conclude, following a big Obama win in NH, that the only candidate who can beat Obama (which will be a tough road, but doable if he's cast as an eloquent liberal but liberal nonetheless) would be Huckabee? I agree that Giuliani was terrible today, and would look a bit like Nixon next to Kennedy in a debate with Obama (and McCain might look like Dole next to Clinton). Rising unemployment and signs of real economic trouble also make the usual Republican economic self-help message problematic, and suggest why Huck is appealing to a great many of blue collar social conservatives and the "Reagan Democrat" types. Mitt's strategy has shown that negative campaigning may be taking the back seat to messages of positive uplift and "hope" (Huck's "verticality"), as well as some new and more middle class version of "compassionate conservatism." Thompson seems hopelessly out of contention. So, as Bill Kristol was arguing yesterday, might Huck be the GOP's best chance to win? And if so, is it the end of the GOP as we have known it for the past 30 years?

We'll we've engaged two of America's leading Catholic thinkers today. And to Marc I say: I hope the Democrats end up suffering from buyer's remorse, as they did last time. But this Obama think isn't going to wear off by Feb. 5, and I fear (just like I fear death) that he's shrewd enough to spin it until November. And to Dr. Pat: I can't be sure you're wrong, and I liked the joke in one of the threads that our friend Bill K. is angling to be Secretary of Defense in the Repubican administration. Anyway, two great comments.

Well, Julie might be right that desperate times require desperate measures. (She joins me in the thanocentric world on this against Marc.) Huck might rise to the occasion, and maybe it's unreasonable to believe McCain could. Another great comment...

"She would have been ... a much better president than Obama."



I am not so sure of that. With Obama you get a liberal who likes to keep everyone happy and be seen as a unifier. With Hillary you get a liberal with a chip on her shoulder and an axe to grind. Ready to stick it to conservatives and Republicans every chance she gets. I'll take Obama.

A post-NHprimary comment. My odds for the Demo nominee are Obama 45%, Hillary 35%, and Edwards 10%. Edwards really could sneak by the other two as they tear into one another, or after one of them self-destructs. Scary, IMO. I have to admit, contra Red, that Hillary as would probably be a better president for the country, but I find myself rather pleased by the Demo electorate's palpable distaste for her brand of politics, as demonstrated by thier(obviously exagerrated but still quite significant) second thoughts about her.

The above dismissals of Giuliani are wrong. He, not McCain, remains the Republican w/ moderate-appeal to watch.

Patrick Deneen's comment about Huck applies regardless of whether he is the nominee, but not in the way Patrick thinks: it's not the end of the GOP as we know it, but Huck fever does spell the end of the religious right as we've known it. Huckabee Republicanism, given more Buchananite or Gersonite flavors as the case may be, is going to with us for a long time, and it will elect many a Republican representative, and perhaps a few independents as well. And Huck is also going to be around. Libertarian leaning and business-class Republicans are going to have to think hard about how they want to respond to that.

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