Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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The GOP’s future

Just in case there is room out there for Republican optimism, along comes David Forte to remind us that there probably is no room for it. This reminds me of Hungarian pessimism. Two Hungarian comrades meet on a street corner in the mid-eighties: Well comrade, how are things with you? Humph, says the other, the situation is hopeless, but not yet bad.

Discussions - 15 Comments

Earlier this morning I referred you guys to krazy kat and ignatz to suggest I'd like to heave a suitable brick at John McCain. Reconsidering, I would reconstruct that. I feel that McCain heaves his bricks, like the speech he gave out West on Monday,, expecting me and other conservatives to act like krazy, and swoon with some pained adoration. I admit I have no where else to go, but the sense of being stuck in a comic strip with some irritably irrational character does not please.

I was hoping someone on NLT, or somewhere, would write something encouraging me to believe that McCain is a conservative whom I could love. Today, I need it. David Forte sort of - almost - well, not quite - encourages with, "He's not as bad as the other guys." I wake up some mornings to look at the other body in the bed and tell myself the same thing. Sometimes saying that works, invigorates hope; some days not.

I would be very happy for John McCain to be the personification of my political hope. I keep hoping he will, as I have no choice but to take him as "my man". This week I have to wonder, whose hope does he think he is personifying? I do wish he wanted to personify mine, rather than making me want to throw things.

Kate: the good news is that we don't have to marry this guy. We just have to live with him for awhile--in a roommate, not an illicit sort of way--so we don't even have to feel guilty about it.

Forte's argument is similar to David Frum's in that it asks us to take note of the ways in which the electorate is not, in fact, as conservative as many of us would hope. On the other hand, I think Forte gives us more reason for optimism than Frum does and more than Schramm suggests in his comments above. Forte and Frum are both right to argue that it is not true that our candidates only need to be "more conservative." These arguments miss the point. First, they beg the question: "What is conservative?" Second, they are grounded in a fundamental disregard of the true nature of the thinking of the American people. The American people are not raging liberals, but neither are they rock-ribbed conservatives. They are not a "silent" and conservative majority just waiting to be tapped by the guy who hits upon all the right talking points. They are, as Frum insists, practical people with real problems looking for real solutions. They are commonsensical and not ideological. I don't think conservatives have done a very good job of explaining how their principles translate into solutions to their problems. It is wrong of us to think it should be obvious to them or that they will think as we do just because we say they should. Frum seems to think that we need to develop policy prescriptions around our principles (as, he argues, Reagan did) and offer those to the consideration of American people. That may be half-true. I think it's certainly true that we cannot just go around spouting principles like a mantra and expect that to translate into votes. We do have to explain our principles. But I'd be more inclined, I think, to explain them on the level of justice than to bore people to death with policy details. This does not mean that we shouldn't develop policies informed by conservatism, but it does mean that we can't campaign like policy wonks. Obama's not doing that, after all. People are not flocking to him because of his specific policy prescriptions. They like him, as Forte notes, because he's offering "hope." And it misses to point again to simply argue that Obama's "hope" is vacuous.

So Forte is an improvement on Frum (at least as if I understand Frum). Forte has correctly identified the crack in Obama's armor: the perception that he might be, after all, just another politician--that he's selling not just a vacuous hope but, rather, a false and a disingenuous hope. He is, like Hillary and Bill before him, insulting the intelligence of the American people and, therefore, wasting their time. Forte has also correctly identified the only real hope that McCain has to win by means other than the self-destruction of the Dems . . . appealing to the (admittedly more muted) sense of hope that McCain, at his best, can project. This may be the election where "competence" can be taken to be quite sexy.

The situation can be turned around, and can be turned around rather rapidly.

The Dems are on the verge of nominating the most radical member of the U.S Senate, a guy with a long history of associating himself with radicals and radical causes.

The GOP standard-bearer is a legitmate war hero.

There's a great deal to work with.

It can be turned around.

But first there has to be an accurate assessment of the situation, then there must be mental clarity about what will work in the present political landscape.

I spent much of yesterday speaking with Hill staffers, and I made exactly the same point, {with much more specificity}.

We can win this election.

For what's it worth, this troubled Democrat thinks Dan is quite right. Of course Hillary and others have shown the way forward.

I think Hillary is much the stronger of the two remaining Democrat contenders. And she has an argument to make why the supers should tender her the nomination.

Pennsylvania by 10 points wasn't a fluke.

West Virginia by 40 wasn't "symbolic," except to the extent that it symbolized how Obama's support is unravelling.

The Democrats are in a difficult spot. They're convinced that if they allow the cold politics of the situation to dictate their play, and go with Hillary, Black Americans, their largest constiutency, will rise in open rebellion. I think those fears are wildy overdrawn. But they think otherwise. So it looks like they're going with an Obama though they're increasingly suspicious that his candidacy is going to implode.

Kate: (1) Force of habit and nostalgia for people like Truman and Scoop Jackson and Humphrey and my father; I've been a Democrat since high school - from day my Eisenhower-Republican father, angry that I was defending Walter Reuther, called me a "pseudo-intellectual parlor-pink." In 1964 he too became a Democrat. (2) The crazy people in the Democratic Party scare me less than the crazy people in the Republican Party. (3) I can be a Democrat without being a liberal. Carey McWilliams taught lots of people that.


8: Sure, one can "be a Democrat without being a liberal," but that's merely a game for intellectuals. One CANNOT be a Democrat without supporting a liberal party and therefore helping the liberal cause.


Whining about roommates and who excites us, or doesn't, will get us nowhere. Dan is right -- Obama is a RADICAL, people. He needs to LOSE.

For a while, NLT had lots of posts about Obama mostly because he was new and unexpected. Now that conservative Republicans have McCain, whom many of them don't like (to say the least), all the energy that otherwise might be positive or at least prudent has turned sour and merely negative; Obama is dangerous, radical, and so on to the real ugliness that may become rampant. McCain may therefore be elected in part the way GWBush was elected. But he is a surer and more accomplished man whom conservatives are likely to continue disliking, perhaps more before he is finished.

I would be very happy for John McCain to be the personification of my political hope. I keep hoping he will, as I have no choice but to take him as "my man".

But you do have a choice, Kate. You can vote for anyone you wish to. The only thing propping up the corrupt two party system is inertia. Now we need our own Velvet Revolution. Can we do any less than that?

Steve Thomas, re #8, (1) My Dad converted to Democrat in 1964, too. He likes McCain, as does my mother, except for the war. (2) The crazy people in the Democratic Party scare me more than the crazy people in the Republican Party (3) I didn't think it had been possible to be a conservative Democrat, except for reasons like your #1. However, some of the current crop of Ohio Democrats in office are better than expected. They are no more anti-business than the last crop of Ohio Republicans.

Which is my gripe, David Frisk, that I seem to be about to get a Republican candidate who will help liberal causes. I keep hearing that McCain is conservative where it counts, on the war, on abortion and on economic issues. On Monday, with his commitment to "doing something" about global warming, he damaged that claim about conservative economic principles. Now he is declaring an end date to Iraq and I sure hope he can pull that off. Except, of course, it is not really up to him. There are all sorts of other factors involved beyond his political posturing. That's why I am whining. I feel uneasy about where the rest of his conservatism is going to go before November, roughly as Steve Thomas says in #11.

If Obama is a radical with a transcendent veneer, he won't win the election. We’ve already see th4rough his penumbra of authenticity. If he doesn't win, he is history; Democrats don't run a candidate more than once. He may have a future in Illinois, but he won't be a national candidate again. His veneer may not even cover pine, but something more like that composition board that looks like oatmeal when it gets wet. So, I am not worried about him.

I'm worried about the tough, experienced guy who does it his way, which doesn't look like being my way. Maybe I am being selfish, but I would like a likely candidate whose politics is like mine. John, I know I could vote for anyone, but honestly - who? That’s been the question since the mid-term election. We know how it works, from the 90’s, if not from before. If too many of us vote for someone else, we are likely to get Obama, just as David Frisk says. I think Obama couldn’t possibly be, in office, as big a pill as he looks being. It's just not practical, but I don't want to take the chance, thanks.

I am sorry for the double post up there. I though I caught the first one to correct an apostrophe in the wrong place. Strain out the gnat to swallow a camel? Oh. It applies. I hope when I strain out the gnats that I find in my McCain soup, it is not so I have to swallow a whole nasty mess I haven't seen yet.

Kate, you're wonderful!

If too many of us vote for someone else, we are likely to get Obama, just as David Frisk says.

The system is set up that way, but it need not be and should not be.

People need to stop running round and round on the same hamster wheel and wondering why they don't get anywhere.

Obama is a RADICAL, people.

So is McCain. The long struggle with communism inured people to what radicalism really looks like.

The Hungarian saying reminded me of a proverb:

A German will say that the situation is serious, but not hopeless. An Austrian will say that the situation is hopeless, but not serious.

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