February 07, 2008

Coda


The last hope of conservatives that they might have some representation in November has dwindled away to nothing. Mitt Romney has just suspended his presidential campaign.

Despite all the heaps and heaps of criticism and questioning of everything from his religion, to his conservative credentials, to his stance on the Iraq war, this man was a great candidate. Today is a sad day for conservatives, for Republicans, and for America.

Conservative talk radio decided too late to support Romney and now they have ended up with a presidential candidate who has been the bane of their existence for decades in John McCain who has taken the opportunity to side against conservatives and conservatism almost whenever given the chance.

I suppose Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul remain in the race which isn't a surprise given the politically tone deaf nature of their campaigns. By suspending his campaign now, Romney graciously allows McCain to consolidate Republican support behind him. I would expect nothing less from the man I have passionately supported for years. Today Mitt Romney has acted in accordance with the way he ran his campaign, with class and selflessness.

5 comments:

Chris said...

Hey Jaz, it's been awhile. Glad to see you still writing.

--"Conservative talk radio decided too late to support Romney and now they have ended up with a presidential candidate who has been the bane of their existence for decades in John McCain who has taken the opportunity to side against conservatives and conservatism almost whenever given the chance."

I totally agree with that. I, too, think it's the failure of talk radio. I would argue slightly different on Mitt's conservativeness but I do agree that talk radio waited too long to come around to him. The largest medium for right wing support has been talk radio for at least two decades now. For some reason it didn't do it's job this time. That doesn't mean Republicans are doomed in Nov., it just means they missed out on having a better candidate than what they have now.

See ya man.

Jaz said...

Chris,

Welcome back from the wilderness. You know, that place where Romney Republicans will consign themselves to unless McCain does the smart thing and picks Romney as his VP, when the time comes.

I take your presence as a welcome shot in the arm which I sorely need after this week of doom and gloom.

We haven’t conferred in while so there is much to discuss. Maybe you’ll be surprised at some of the things I’m about to say. Currently I am facing down the abomination presented to me in the form of being asked to vote for a man who represents the worst kind of old school, old guard politicians in John McCain. That’s a funny remark about Kerry that you made. In short, it sucks to have a sucky nominee. I have scared Kent lately by saying that I would sooner vote for Barack Obama than old man Mclame.

In the past we have debated the definition of conservatism. With everyone from McCain, Mike Huckabee, and George W. Bush running around lately proclaiming themselves to be a conservative, I often think of our discussions where you held me up to the strictest and most stringent interpretation of conservatism in order to make the point that Romney is not a conservative.

So along these lines, let me get some general house cleaning out of the way. I’ve come to realize that I consider myself to be ‘Romney conservative’ or if you can’t accept that, I’m a ‘Romney Republican’. Whatever it is to be for what Romney is for, I’m that. Despite what many left leaning and/or pro-John McCain pundits would have you believe, Mitt Romney is not a liberal. Surely he is at least fairly considered to be a Republican. Now if John McCain is the leader of the Republican Party, I’m not sure that Romney even fits that description but that’s a separate discussion from the direction I wish to go. While I’m hoping not to have to continue convincing you that Romney is a conservative, I suppose I’m stirring the pot by even bringing this up.

It’s interesting, President Bush speaking at CPAC today looked like an arch-conservative when compared to John "reach across the aisle" McCain. Even though Bush was anything but a fiscal conservative, after days of wrestling with the notion of voting for McCain, seeing Bush speak on the same stage Romney and McCain have I thought fondly of simpler times when I could happily support George W. Bush along with a great plurality of conservatives. Things are much more complicated now. The war on terror is not as starkly seen as the most pressing issue of the day and the role of conservatism in general is facing marginalization or homogenization.

But there are some familiar themes from when we last spoke. Obama’s appeal, for example, still relies largely on the tabula rasa motif that I pointed out months ago. After all, the very notion that I would be considering voting for him indicates that he hasn’t been making too much of a big deal of the standard liberal causes that I typically find so off-putting. And also as I said, Obama presents himself as more or less of a blank slate, but if anything he is a party line liberal. So it’s all over the place with Obama, it’s a duality and a paradox. He’s a classic liberal, yet he seems palatable enough to conservative leaning persons like myself that I would consider supporting him. This, I suppose is part of the magic of the Obama candidacy.

This goes to my thesis in the first article I wrote for conservablogs, an online writing community I joined where you have to submit articles to a conservative hierarchy for approval before they’re published. In my article Strategery, I explain why it is that I would rather vote for either Obama or Romney rather than the business-as-usual, back room dealing Washington insiders represented by Hillary Clinton and John McCain. It’s time for a changing of the guard, I argued, rather than the same old hacks sent back to Washington “just in different chairs”, as Romney says.

The way McCain ran his campaign, making up lies about Romney and generally bristling at even the slightest hint of legitimate criticism, is very much like the 'by any means necessary' approach that it strikes me that the Clintons have been adopting for years now. Obama is merely the latest target of Clintonian politics. It’s interesting to see the Clinton subtly tweak their race baiting and personal attacks in order to preserve the decepton that they are worthwhile and on the up and up. The reality is, the Clintons and McCain really don’t care who or what principles they have to trample on in order to advance their own political career. It’s disgusting frankly, how these old guard politicians conduct themselves at times.

But before I begin heaping too much praise upon Obama, let me at least take to task the party he represents. On the Republican side, the discussion is all about ideology and political philosophy. Is he too liberal? Is he conservative enough? Would he nominate strict constructionist judges? Is he a constitutionalist, a centrist?

The same cannot be said about what is happening on the Democratic side of the aisle. Since Obama and Clinton have identical policy positions, the race is colored by identity politics in the extreme. It’s not a discussion of ideas on the left; it’s simply a matter of what voting blocs are voting for which candidate. Hillary Clinton has lower income Democrats and housewives. Obama has high income Democrats and blacks. Hillary has senior citizens, the labor unions, and Latinos and Obama has college educated Democrats and white males.

Count me in that last group, by the way. There is something so viscerally unacceptable and grating about Hillary Clinton’s delivery. The way she builds into a crescendo and seems to be yelling angrily for no reason rubs young white men the wrong way in the most basic of levels. After all of the substantive points I take the time to make in the arena of politics, this surely is the most trivial and superficial argument to make. But is because I spend so much time concerned with matters of substance and policy that I have the confidence to point out that when something it so transcendently annoying, such as listening to Hillary peak out, it must be worth mentioning because it is likely that I am not the only one who simply “doesn’t like” listening to Hillary Clinton. I’d rather hear leftie talking points coming from Barack, hands down. He’s so agreeable that I might be inclined to agree with him... funny how that works. Obama is more than merely agreeable though, he is realistic, practical, and well-reasoned. He was attacked for mentioning that Ronald Reagan was not a complete waste of time, an apostasy in partisan Democratic circles. In stark contrast, the Hillary Clinton partisan philosophy is to never concede a thing to the other side. I also found Obama’s declaration that Republicans have had more ideas than Democrats in the last 10 to 15 years to be remarkable. He won me over with that one sentiment. It gave me hope, the audacity to hope if you will, that there are at least some Democrats who are not so invested in partisanship that they are incapable of listening to and acknowledging ideas regardless of the source.

The ability to listen to ideas in an earnest effort to solve problems is not only refreshing; it is a welcome departure from the bitter partisanship that Hillary Clinton represents.

There’s a lot of time left before November and I look forward to relaxing and watching a spirited (read: bitter and divisive) contest on the left side of the aisle as they fight for delegates and super delegates. In that contest I’ll be routing for Obama against Hillary but as for the general election I’m not sure which way I’ll go. As an independent voter and independent thinker, I reserve the right to go in either direction. We’ll see how the various actors in this narrative behave in the coming months but like Romney on abortion over the span of 13 years, I reserve the right to ‘evolve’ on these and other issues.

Chris said...

Jaz, you bring up a lot of good points. I really wish I could write as well as you. Some how I knew my four or five little sentences would result in a novel from you ;) That’s only a joke my friend. Even when I’m in agreement with you, you still have a lot to say.

I’m not sure where to begin really. I don’t necessarily disagree with any one statement. I know we’ve argued without end about what “conservatism” actually is. However, I will make note that the point I was trying to make back then was to differ from you that the Democratic takeover of Congress in Nov. of 2006 was not a victory for conservatism like you said it was. Not to continue that argument, I’m only referencing it because when you say I held you to the strictest definition of conservatism; it kinda takes the whole thing out of context. I wasn’t necessarily holding you to a certain standard, but merely disagreeing with you about conservatism having anything to do with Democrats taking over Congress. If one suggests that conservatism had a victory last November, I believe, then, that whoever making that argument (whether you or Limbaugh) would be trying to change the very definition of conservatism in order to suggest that conservatism always wins out, when in actuality the 36 new members of congress were anything but “conservative.”

On to the matters at hand, I don’t believe Mitt to be a liberal at all. I think he’s rather liberal on a few things, and I think he’s conveniently changed his stance on issues that would be considered liberal by the right wing. At one point in time, not so very long ago, Romney was pro-choice, was a champion for gay rights, for stem-cell research, for gun control, and against tax cuts—all stances that are very hard to call conservative. Then when deciding to run for president, Romney changed. Whether one believes he’s had an awakening, or if one believes he’s doing it for a political opportunity- count me in the latter- what was at stake was the perception of him. In the end, his perceived flip flops were too much to overcome. Instead of trying to be Mr. Conservative, he should have been himself. Maybe in 2012 he will have had time to convince people that he really changed his positions based on conviction rather than opportunism.

I understand your dislike of Hillary. I’m not her biggest fan either. She is a polarizing figure, but so is George Bush. A president that has a 70% disapproval rating cannot be summed up any other way than as polarizing. All the things you say about Hillary, those of us who dislike Bush feel the same way about him and say the very same things. For example, Obama routinely speaks about the very same things as Bush. When Obama speaks about freedom and democracy and the American Dream, people are energized. When Bush does it his delivery is “something so viscerally unacceptable and grating” that for some reason it rubs ordinary, middle ground people, some who even voted for him, the wrong way in the most basic levels. You might disagree with that, but I believe it. All the polarizing things that are said about Hillary are so very true about Bush as well. Trust me, more than half the country doesn’t like listening to George Bush.

Something that really stands out to me is that you seem not to like McCain because he sometimes transcends party lines. You mock his reaching across the aisle to compromise or to seek out different ideas. It’s almost as if you don’t believe the Democratic Party to have any ideas worthy of consideration. That any bending to Democratic insight is weak and almost treasonous. Sorry if those aren’t your words, it’s just your writing gives off that appearance. Then, somehow, that’s what you like best about Obama. You call it, “[t]he ability to listen to ideas in an earnest effort to solve problems is not only refreshing, it is a welcome departure from the bitter partisanship that Hillary Clinton represents.” Does that mean it’s okay for Dems to reach across the aisle just not Republicans? And the second part of your statement concerning partisanship again can equally be applied to George Bush, who has for 7 years done nothing but increase political partisanship. It’s not just Hillary. So a partisan figure is okay as long as that figure is Republican? Of course not. I would think you would agree with me on that. My point is that neither party is capable of solving every issue on their own. Parties were formed for consensus not for issue solvability. Having a candidate that can overcome party lines is a wonderful thing for this country. Just as a side note to history, FDR actually stole Social Security from the Republicans and made it his own. When Clinton was impeached, what was the first thing he threw money at? The Star Wars program, trying to make it his program and trying to get impeachment hungry Republicans off his back. Of course FDR was much more successful than Clinton, but the point still stands that reaching across party lines is not a weakness by any means.

I think no matter who McCain is up against in November, it’s going to be a bitter hard fought election. But we must remember that both parties have polarizing figures. And both parties don’t accurately represent their members or even their elected officials. And sometimes, just sometimes, Rush Limbaugh really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Thanks for the time Jaz.

Jaz said...

To suggest that Romney changed positions on issues for political reasons implies that he does not believe in his heart the positions that he currently holds. This is simply not the case. In order to understand this, and not buy into the standard MSM narrative of Romney you must understand that Romney is not a lifelong politician. So what does that mean? It means that Romney did not have all of his positions set in stone going into politics. As governor, he began to see first hand how some of the more liberal positions that he may have held were untenable because they did not, in his estimation, make for good public policy. To lambaste Romney for arriving at new conclusions over a decade plus of public service implies that it is more desirable to have a politician who will never change his mind on anything regardless of what new information is discovered or considered. The real reason that so many left leaning individuals keep pounding the ‘flip flop’ charge is that they disapprove of the conclusions that Romney has arrived at more than they disapprove of the manner in which he made them. If Romney had moved left on issues, he would be praised as becoming enlightened by liberals. But since he appeared to be moving to the right, he has earned the constant vilification by those on the left.

Since I have been following politics, I have been following Mitt Romney. In all of that time I have not observed the drastic changes on issues that the McCain people and the MSM keep telling me that has taken place. In 1994, apparently Romney ran as effectively pro-choice. In ’94 I was a junior in high school. I’m now in my thirties and when I keep hearing about the positions Romney held in ’94, I rightly imagine that to be a lifetime ago. Do I believe exactly the same things I do now as I did in high school? Of course not. Let me further explain why the charge flip flop in regards to Romney is essentially nonsense. The term flip-flop simply does apply to Mitt Romney. Wikipedia defines flip flop as “a sudden real or apparent change of policy or opinion, while trying to claim that both positions are consistent with each other.” This charge was used to great effect against John Kerry in 2004 when he appeared to be changing positions on an issue mid sentence. “I actually did vote for the 87 million, before I voted against it.” I realize that you say ‘perceived flip flop’ but I can’t impress upon you enough how incorrect the charge of flip-flopping is when used against Romney. Wikepedia further explains that, “The charge [of flip flopping] has more recently been used to attack politicians and in some cases other public figures for any change of policy for any reason whatsoever, including new information becoming available or a change in circumstances. Such changes in policy are considered evidence of a lack of political conviction.” This use of flip-flopping in this manner is obviously an incorrect bastardization of the term that was originally used most prominently and correctly against John Kerry. The idea that Romney flip flopped has been peddled extensively by the John McCain campaign and then parroted by left leaning journalist because they don’t approve of the conclusions Romney has, over a decade and half of public life, arrived at. Romney does not approve of abortion or gay marriage. These are matters of fact, not speculation, spin, or theory. To say that Romney was “champion of gay rights” is to conflate gay rights with gay marriage. In 1994 the issue of gay rights referred to human rights not the current agenda of the gay lobby in the form of gay marriage. This is just one example of how the whole charge of flip-flopping against Romney relies upon a great number of distortions, conflations and pure fiction. It’s especially rich that McCain is the one leading the argument that Romney flip-flopped on issues when he is actually the one who has changed his potions on a large number of issues during the campaign. In order to quell the fears of conservatives, McCain has either modified or obfuscated his position on almost every issue imaginable. Within the span of one week, He changed positions on illegal immigration for being for amnesty to realizing that a comprehensive solution is not acceptable and that a fence must be built first. His position on the Bush tax cuts is equally murky, running the gamut from being against them to praising the wisdom of them. On those issues that he does change on he simply avoids talking about entirely. When has he ever defended the rationale of McCain-Feingold or McCain-Lieberman to conservatives? Romney has had to prostrate himself and endlessly explain his rationale for even the most inconsequential of policy positions. But John McCain is holier than thou. With him what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander. When Romney comes to a different conclusion on abortion over the span of 13 years he’s a flip-flopper but when McCain changes on illegal immigration during the campaign he is somehow beyond reproach. This begins to explain why it is that disprove of McCain so much.


With John McCain, it is really more a matter of his ‘holier than thou’ temperament and the underhanded, disingenuous campaign that he ran that I have a problem with. I don’t have a problem with reaching across the aisle per se, it’s just that for McCain ‘reaching across the aisle’ means adopting the liberal position. Again, on its own not bad thing, but for McCain to claim, as he does in his ads, that he is the “true conservative” is just another example of the disingenuous nature of his campaign. I like Joe Lieberman, and have no problem with a centrist political philosophy in general. I’m not a pro-life crusader or particularly pro or anti-gun control. Down the line I see both sides of many issues and like Romney I am capable of listening to reason.

So no, I don’t have any double standards on partisanship or reaching across the aisle. I agree that Bush is polarizing, even though he is not very conservative at the end of the day. And I don’t find fault with McCain for being able to build consensus by simply adopting the position of the opposition on a given issue. I do think that most of the anti-Bush sentiment in America is exaggerated hysteria that thankfully we will hopefully be free of when he leaves office.

Chris said...

I'm posting my reply on PN because I can't get the video to work here. If you want I can copy and paste the text over here too.

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