Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Shameless Self-Promotion and Random Observations

1. I will be speaking at BAYLOR (in beautiful Waco) next Tuesday. At NOON on Locke an at 7 on Stoicism and Christianity in America (inspired by Walker Percy, Willian Alexander Percy, and Tocqueville). See the ISI or Baylor websites for further details.

2. The ghost of a chance for Hillary’s comeback depends on her actually winning in Wisconsin on Tuesday. The polls show her just outside the margin of error. This fact is so obvious to me that I wonder why she hasn’t poured everything into that state and flattered its residents even more on the significance of their decision.

3. If we follow the experts in saying that candidates can be judged on character, competence, and ideology, we see that Senators Obama and McCain are strong in the same category--character. Obama’s strength comes from his visionary and, some say, ennobling words, and McCain’s from his noble deeds (which he doesn’t hesitate to call to our attention).

4. They both score low on competence, insofar as neither really has a record of executive accomplishment. Obama is just inexperienced and untested, and a lot of his planet-saving, quasi-messianic talk should remind us that he often seems pretty clueless on what he’d actually be able to do as president. McCain was for the surge, but he’s not really been carrying it out, and everyone knows his practical judgment is questionable.

5. When you listen carefully, Obama is very clear on ideology. He’s not hiding the fact that he’s the most liberal of the senators. And so any Republican would stand to gain by waging an ideological campaign against him--on taxes, judges, immigration, foreign policy, political correctness, a national health care bureaucracy, and so forth. McCain’s perceived ideological moderation might be viewed as a strength, but it’s actually more like incoherence. He’s to the far right, so to speak, when it comes to budget cutting, surges, and maybe even bombing Iran, and on these issues the conservative position (although it might be right) is not particularly popular. And his flip-flopping when it comes to taxes, immigration, and judges might make it hard for him to bring the ideological attack on against Obama. Mac’s main job is to work on this ideological thing, because that’s where Barack is weakest. He needs to turn incoherence into moderation, and genuinely moderately conservative policies might well be good enough to energize "the base" against a liberal extremist. He needs really to believe that the Bush’s best domestic accomplishments were the pro-family tax cuts and two really smart and reliably conservative justices.

Discussions - 10 Comments

To add to that analysis, the unearthing of Obama's liberal extremism, if done properly, undercuts the therapeutic message of unity; someone that far to the left can't be relied upon to "heal" divisions he will likely exacerbate. McCain's moderation, if he can sell it that way, could be presented as more likely to deliver the goods Obama promises.

I agree with both Peter and Ivan's analyses. Let's make the contest about likely policies....and their implementation. BUT....do our esteemed commentators (PL, IK, JK, etc.) believe America's voters will listen to an honest debate about stark policy prescription differences...with open and critical (No, I don't believe those terms are oxymoronic...) minds?
Can moderate realism defeat semi-messianism...is these times? My sober hopes are flagging.

Go Baylor!

Hillary just needs to be close in WI; she can win OH, TX, and PA if she fights Wisconsin within 5-8 points. WI is a much more liberal wine/cheese electorate than the Latino heavy south Texas and the older and more unionized PA and OH.

A long time ago Peter, you said you hoped Huck voters would stand strong enough in SC to show his strenth. I imagine Huck proved his strenght on super Tuesday and thereafter. However, I just voted today here in OH, and you can bet your bottome dollar who it was for.

One thing McCain has to do that Hilary didn't is to draw Obama into actual argument---compel him to define his position in such a way that reduces the opportunity for ethereal rhetorical flourish and forces him to stake out a definable constituency. He can't just run a substantive campaign---as Gary astutely points out, that won't capture the imagination and will look torpid by comparision. He needs to craft the kind of substantive campaign that makes Obama's look evasive versus "unifying". For example, make him spell out why he voted against Roberts and Alito on jurisprudential grounds. This might not produce a victory but it could at least net a noble defeat.

It is interesting that no one is noting the fact that Huckabee and McCain are in a virtual deadheat in both Wisconsin and Texas.


This is despite the fact that McCain has a monopoly on the media outlets. How can this be explained?

Obviously divine intervention.

My colleague Robert Stackpole argues that Huck is the one.

Or else, we might worry that the world is turning in Obama's direction.

"The U.K. government has decided to take full control of troubled mortgage lender Northern Rock PLC"

"I wanted to see a private-sector solution, but it had to be on the right terms," said Mr. Darling. "Governments have to see these things through."


The WSJ article uses language like "treacherous" or "embarrassment", but what will The Guardian say about it? "Shareholders? What shareholders?"

Look, even the BBC article is titled "Rock Nationalisation 'Right Move'" as this is the logical conclusion of their government's previous bail-out of the mortgage firm. Gordon Brown said, "We will have and always will put the interests of taxpayers first,"

I would like to know how our remaining candidates see that type of thing. I have an uncomfortable sense that a majority of American tax-payers might be all for it.

I do NOT think you have to listen carefully to Barack Obama to hear his ideology. That is very clearly expressed. The scary part is what is inherent or implicit, the logical end of his prosy promise is government strength and action. I am distressed that people like it so much. In its insolidity it is the gaseous form of a very nasty solid material. Maybe our question is, does he know that? Does he understand the logical policy ends of that which he proposes? "Governments have to see these things through." If he becomes the executive of our government, does he understand the means and logical ends of what he airily proposes?

Considering the polls in no. 5: Obama is now ahead in Texas! Part of the firewall has come down! And: If Huck were to win in Wisconsin and Texas, he could begin to claim, if he wanted, that McCain's lock on the nomination depended on the undemocratic winner-take-all principle.
But he would actually have to score decisive victories... But Christian humility or ordinary reason should cause Huck to remember that the votes for him now are largely protest votes, and Mac should be chastened by the magnitude and the persistence of the protest.

Christian humility or ordinary reason should cause Huck to remember that the votes for him now are largely protest votes

I am not following this argument. They may be for many a "lesser of two/three/four evil" vote, but that is par for the course according to GOP supporters, so how is Huck different from McCain/Ruby/Mitt ?

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