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John McCain wasn’t originally my guy – I was a Huckabee man in the primaries – but I’m proud to have voted for such a great and accomplished American for president.  In his concession speech McCain showed that he possesses class and self-possession that Barack Obama can only dream of.

You can expect this blog to remain mostly silent for the foreseeable future, but I remain a committed supporter of conservative Republican principles.  There will be postings from time to time and I’ll use this blog as an outlet for my philosophical murmurings when my wife gets tired of listening to me.  Most of all, I’ll be watching and waiting for Mike Huckabee to signal his intentions with regard to 2012.

Pray for Barack Obama.  He’s our president for the next four years and there’s nothing to do now but hope for the best.


For the last few weeks we’ve all heard the whispers – mostly from the talking heads in the mainstream press – that Sarah Palin isn’t up to the job of the vice presidency.  Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric’s interviews with Palin were really more like pop quizzes, and the democratic mouthpieces couldn’t contain their glee with her sometimes less than stellar performances.

But tonight Governor Palin held her own in a debate with Joe Biden, and something very important happened: she justified the hopes of her supporters.

The conventional wisdom in the press was that Biden, the seasoned politician and veteran of dozens of debates at diferent levels of government, was going to wipe the walls with Palin.  This was the hope of the democrats and the fear of the republicans.  But the reality was different.

Palin was frank and candid, and seemed comfortable in her own skin.  She touted her resume as a mother, a mayor, a commissioner, and a chief executive.  She spoke of her admiration and respect for her running mate, John McCain.  And she did it all with ease and confidence.

There were things that the governor could have done better.  For instance, she should have demanded the last word on several occasions when Biden punctuated his comments with cheap shots and democratic applause lines.  And it would have been better if she had spent more time on offense against Barack Obama instead of defending John McCain (and herself).  But Sarah Palin did enough things right without getting anything terribly wrong, and her highly credible performance is bound to reinvigorate the Republican base that had initially been so energized by her, and whose enthusiasm had begun to wane.

In that respect, Sarah Palin won tonight by not losing.

The chatter in the blogosphere the last few days is all about a supposed recent disclosure (trial balloon?) from a major McCain fundraiser who says that Mike Huckabee is John McCain’s favorite potential running mate.

Actually, it’s unclear whether Huckabee is McCain’s favorite or the favorite of McCain’s strategists.  The distinction is significant, because McCain’s maverick reputation is well-earned; McCain may choose the Huckster against his handlers’ wishes if it’s his idea, or he may rebel against those handlers if Huck’s candidacy is their idea.

And the fact may well be that this rumor is only being floated to see how the public responds.  If that’s the case, it isn’t the enthusiastic response of evangelicals and social conservatives that’s being measured, because their ardor for Huckabee is well known.  It’s the response of moderates, fiscal conservatives, neocons, Ron Paul nuts, and conservative Democrats that interests those strategists.

As with any vice presidential pick, Huckabee would bring both positives and negatives to the ticket.  Here’s my plus/minus analysis for Mike Huckabee.

Plus:  Social conservatives and Evangelical Christians love Huckabee earnestly because he doesn’t condescend to them and because they know where his ideals come from.  They love a candidate whose motives are pure and to whom they can relate.

Plus:  Southerners, even black Southerners, like Huckabee’s background and demeanor.  He can help McCain win the South, which is in play because Obama is so popular with African Americans.

Plus:  Huckabee is a killer debater and a gifted orator.  Whoever Obama selects as his running mate will have to be a very talented and very aggressive debater in order to hold his/her own in the VP debates.  That’s because Huckabee’s only obvious weakness (observed from Republican debates) is responding to direct attacks and insults.

Plus:  Huck’s Army.  This is the volunteer corps of 20,000 dedicated grassroots supporters who marched, blogged, put up signs, telemarketed, and otherwise campaigned on Huckabee’s behalf during his prexy campaign.  You sign up Huckabee, you get Huck’s Army in the bargain, and that’s like getting free money.  Even better, it’s like getting free paid employees.

Plus:  The tireless campaigner, Mike Huckabee.  Knows how to operate on four hours of sleep seven days a week.  This is a must for the Republicans, because 2008 is looking like a down year for the party.  Extra hard work will be required in order to be competitive.  We know that McCain is up to the task, but he needs his #2 to be capable as well.

Minus:  Huckabee has been, and continues to be, scorned by fiscal conservatives for raising some taxes in Arkansas, at the same time he was cutting others and balancing the state budget every year.

Minus:  Democrats may attack Huckabee’s religiosity, and doing so may be an effective tactic.  For reasons that I tried to spell out in this post (, many Americans are uncomfortable with religion – especially Christianity – and will object to the way the an Evangelical like Huckabee tends to mix religious symbolism and rhetoric with his everyday speech.  It’s no affectation, of course – it’s just the way Southerners (and Northern evangelicals) talk.  They can’t help using religious metaphors or figures of speech drawn from scripture, because it’s part of their culture.  But there are several strains of secular hostility to religious expression in this country, be they elitist, atheistic, antitheistic, or just ignorant.

Minus:  Neither McCain nor Huckabee has a degree from a prestigious university, though both attended very rigorous schools.  Huckabee’s early graduation magna cum laude from Ouachita State University in Arkansas isn’t going to impress most Americans, and neither will his unfinished M Div at Southwestern Theological Seminary.  (McCain graduated from the US Naval Academy.)  So Huckabee won’t be able to make up for McCain’s perceived academic deficiencies.

Righty Loosey says:  Choosing Huckabee for his running mate would be a shrewd move by John McCain.  A candidate can either shore up the base or poach votes from the opposition, seldom does he have a chance to do both.  In this case, John McCain can shore up the conservative base while stealing the blue collar vote from Barack Obama, if only he’s smart enought to select Huckabee for Veep.

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally ready to admit that I’ve been wrong.

I’ve been hoping that Hillary Clinton would win the Democrats’ nod for the presidency and run against John McCain for president of the United States.  I thought that she would be easier to defeat than Obama because of her high negatives and because of his ample charisma.

But I’ve come to realize that Obama is an intelligent buffoon, the most transparent kind of elitist, and a poor extemporaneous speaker.  Hillary, by contrast, is a manipulative and unscrupulous competitor.  If she were to come from behind to win the Democrats’ contest, that would be further proof of what we already know about her: she is hard to beat because she’ll do anything to win.

So as a conservative Republican I’m no longer hoping for a Clinton victory.  I’m hoping that the easiest opponent will win, and that’s Barack Obama.

If you’re a Republican running for President of the United States, you’re probably feeling pretty good right now.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are having a knock-down, drag-out fight for the Democrat nomination.  They’re lying about each other, calling each other names, and misrepresenting one another’s records and policies.

If you think back to this past fall and winter, you’ll recall that the Republicans were having it out too.  Some were more or less honorable, others duked it out.  One in particular engaged in some nasty negative campaigning.

But the Republicans got it out of their collective system in early March, and John McCain has benefitted from the break in hard campaigning.  He’s raising money and defining himself to America while Hill and ‘Bama are spending money and defining each other.

How much longer can this go on?  If Hillary wins Pennsylvania, look for Republican paradise to last into May.

And it’ll still be a good time to be John McCain for at least a little while longer.

One more reason to like Mike Huckabee…

Huckabee was on Joe Scarborough’s show the other day, and Scarborough brought up the controversy surrounding Barack Obama and his pastor (or retired former pastor) Louis Wright.  Scarborough, it seems, was looking for a statement of righteous indignation from Huckabee, but the Huck man would have none of it:

“It’s interesting to me that there are some people on the left who are having to be very uncomfortable with what Louis Wright said, when they all were all over a Jerry Falwell, or anyone on the right who said things that they found very awkward and uncomfortable years ago. Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon. Sermons, after all, are rarely written word for word by pastors like Reverend Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you’d say “Well, I didn’t mean to say it quite like that.”

Scarborough asked Huckabee to assess the potential political consequences of the Obama/Wright situation, and got this response:

“I don’t think we know. If this were October, I think it would have a dramatic impact. But it’s not October. It’s March. And I don’t believe that by the time we get to October, this is gonna be the defining issue of the campaign, and the reason that people vote.

And one other thing I think we’ve gotta remember. As easy as it is for those of us who are white, to look back and say “That’s a terrible statement!”…I grew up in a very segregated south. And I think that you have to cut some slack — and I’m gonna be probably the only Conservative in America who’s gonna say something like this, but I’m just tellin’ you — we’ve gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told “you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can’t sit out there with everyone else. There’s a separate waiting room in the doctor’s office. Here’s where you sit on the bus…” And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.”

I’m tempted to give Huckabee an attaboy, but I won’t because these temperate and thoughtful answers aren’t the result of political calculation or cleverness.  This is just Huckabee being his own decent and rational self, and for that he doesn’t deserve our congratulations; he deserves our respect and admiration.

I won’t pretend that I don’t have a favorite; if you’ve been reading my bloggerations, you know who I’ve endorsed.  This article is a look at the relevant attributes of the remaining presidential candidates of both parties, as I see them.

Democrats first:

  • Barak Obama has a tendency to be pompous and windy, but people don’t seem to mind…yet.  When properly directed Obama can be a charismatic script reader, but when left to improvise (as in a debate) he inserts long undramatic pauses…and…torturous…moments where…for some reason…he can’t…seem to decide…to determine…to assess…to decide what exactly he wants to express, or convey, or to to tutu communicate.  You get the idea.  Obama’s camp has cultivated the popular image of a genius wonderkid, almost – but not quite – too good to be true.  He appears to be an amazingly bright, worldly, charming, refined, incredibly handsome, absolutely idealistic-and-yet-pragmatic family man (with a beautiful family, to boot).  The image doesn’t hold up all that well under scrutiny, although there doesn’t seem to be much of a compulsion on the part of the press to scrutinize it at this time.  What one can say of Obama with some certainly is that he is smart, he is savvy, and that on the scale of idealistic-to-cynical he is far more idealistic than his main competitor, Hillary Clinton.
  • Hillary Clinton is the old pro, smart and experienced…and cynical.  Hillary is used to the harsh glare of the spotlight, and has long since made peace with the indignity of the profession.  Her attitude is professional, and she shows up prepared for every appearance and every interview.  But all this comes at a price, and that price is the death of idealism.  Hillary doesn’t seem to be the thin-skinned, contemptuous rager that she (allegedly) was back in ’93 when her husband first took office, but she isn’t the same energetic ball of fire, either.  What drives her now?  It must be ambition, otherwise it can only be described as an unexplained compulsion – and that would suggest that some therapy is in order.
  • Mike Gravel?  What can one say about Mike Gravel?  Most of us don’t even know anything about Gravel!  He had a real political career in the ’60s and ’70s, but it ended badly when he lost a re-election campaign for his seat in the US Senate.  After years of retirement, he declared for president on a lark in 2007.  Gravel has a sense of humor (positive), but his experience in politics is mainly on the legislative side (negative).  Gravel is old, and not in the endearing way that Reagan was or in the gritty way that John McCain is; he’s just old.  He looks old, he acts tired, and at this point in his life he doesn’t seem to have much drive or imagination.

And now the Republicans:

  • John McCain is about as unconventional a politician as one can be, and yet he has the establishment backed into a corner.  That’s not an accident; it’s the result of his drive to accomplish and his unexceeded patience.  McCain has a well-earned reputation for being a loose cannon and a bully.  On the positive side, McCain has political capital that can only be earned the hard way, and I’m not just talking about his five and a half years as a tortured and disfigured prisoner of war in North Vietnam.  I’m also talking about seven years of sucking up his disappointment at losing to George W Bush in 2000.  McCain not only put the episide behind him, he campaigned enthusiastically for Bush in 2004, and for other Republicans across America in other years since.  The “straight talker” reputation McCain has among the media isn’t an illusion; he really is a loudmouth, and that can work for him or against him, depending on the circumstance and how much sleep he’s been getting.  McCain is tough, both mentally and by reputation, and the press loves him.
  • Mike Huckabee, the record shows, is a brilliantly intelligent man with great personal charisma and a gift for speaking.  How does this make him different from Jimmy Carter?  Actually, that isn’t my question; it’s Mitt Romney’s, and that question is a simple yet brilliant strategy for defeating a candidate whose single greatest weakness seems to be that the wrong people are supporting him.  It’s true, Huckabee is popular among Evangelical Christians in America.  And it’s also true that Evangelicals are viewed with contempt by much of America.  What’s been surprising is how many of the people who view Evangelicals contemptuously are members of the Republican party.  Back on topic, Huckabee does have one other significant flaw, and that’s his penchant for speaking extempraneously.  Huckabee, unlike most politicians, can speak at length and with great specificity on a variety of subjects, without notes.  Unfortunately, in those circumstances he has so far shown a tendency to say things that reflect poorly on him – only on rare occasions, but often enough for some people to think he’s a half-wit.
  • Mitt Romney is both the beneficiary and the victim of his own background.  The same things that make him a formidable political foe – his looks and his polish and his money – are at least partially a heritage from his famous father George Romney, a three-term governor of Michigan and briefly a candidate for president in 1968.  Romney has a tendency to come off stiff and awkward when speaking extemporaneously, but when properly prepared he makes a very attractive candidate.  Couple his deceptively youthful good looks with some polish and good preparation, and it isn’t difficult to imagine Mitt Romney running successfully, up to a point.  One negative that I cannot fail to mention is his willingness to give his approval to strategies and advertisements that deceive, but Romney isn’t facing any evident scrutiny on the subject, and that makes the issue almost irrelevant.  Romney’s Mormon faith also is a non-issue to most Americans, and it is to me as well.

Hillary Clinton ran virtually unopposed in the Michigan primary, and when push came to shove on Tuesday January 15, she only scraped by, getting 55% of the vote.  In second place was the always popular “Uncommitted” with 40%, followed by Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd (who has withdrawn from the race), and a fossilized Mike Gravel.

Hill, but where's Billy?

If this result seems to underscore just how unpopular the Democrat frontrunner for President is, consider how this situation came to be.

In jockeying to be one of the earliest-voting states this primary season, Michigan’s politicians pushed the envelope just a little too far.  In response, the national Democrat party sanctioned the state by taking away its national convention delegates.  Most of the candidates, consequently, withdrew their names from the ballot.  But for some reason, the Rodham-Clinton campaign chose to leave Hillary’s name on the ballot.

For fear that Hillary would get good press by winning Michigan in mathematically decisive fashion, her rivals encouraged their supporters to visit the polls and cast their votes for the before-mentioned “Uncommitted.”  And here we are.

As a Republican it’s probably best for me to refrain from further comment.  Goodness knows the Republicans are capable of producing a spectacle (the bad kind), so I’ll leave you with this unjudgemental observation: That’s politics.

John Edwards’ victory/concession speech following the Iowa caucuses tonight was bizarre.  I’m paraphrasing here, but this is almost exactly what he said:  “America sucks!  Vote for me,  Change, change, change!”  His supporters, evidently puzzled by his words, responded by halfheartedly bellowing “WOOOO-oooooo-oh.  Woo?”

Stupifying Speechifying

Lake Superior is enormous and spectacular.  It is touched by three US states and one Canadian province.  On the northwest shore the Sawtooth Mountains are a breathtakingly beautiful sight.  The lake is so big it generates its own weather.  Superior is said to be the site of hundreds of shipwrecks, including the infamous wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, a massive 729 foot long iron ore carrier.  Lake Superior is bigger than the entire state of South Carolina – in fact, it’s the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area.  And yet Lake Superior wasn’t so named because it’s best of the Great Lakes, but because early explorers recognized that it was the farthest north, (or highest) of the lakes.  This fact teaches us that being highest may give the perception of superiority, but it ain’t always so.  And the same is sometimes true in politics.  Politically speaking, who’s on top right now?  Among Democrats, at the moment of this writing, it’s Hillary Clinton.  But Barack Obama is hot on her heels, especially in the early caucus state of Iowa.  We know how quickly a race like this can turn, too, having seen Mike Huckabee demolish the seemingly insurmountable lead of Rudy Giuliani with a few pithy truths and a couple of well placed quips at the CNN/Youtube debate.

But as Hillary isn’t the Dems’ best candidate just because she’s on top (for now), neither would Obama be. The best Democrat running for president right now, the Democrat of Democrats, is New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.  Let me tell you why.

Richardson is an effective communicator and a true believer in the liberal agenda.  Plus, he has brownish skin.  And just look at the following list of important positions Richardson has taken:

Education:  Bill Richardson wants to increase teachers’ pay like he did in New Mexico.  According to his website, that means $60 billion dollars in cuts to the defense budget in order to increase the federal education budget by the same amount.  That way when the Chinese invade, by golly, our kids are going to be fluent in Mandarin.

Energy:  Richarson likes windmills.  They’re fun to look at and they go whoosh, whoosh, whoosh!

Health Care:  Two words: Universal and Mandatory.

Agriculture:  The governor wants to boost crop production and improve farmers’ livelihoods by conserving more farmland and teaching them to speak Spanish.  That way they’ll be better qualified to join the independent contractors of uncertain ethnic origin picking lettuce on their 25 acre family subsistence farms.

HIV/AIDS:  Richardson has a plan to combat the AIDS epidemic: he will appoint a blue ribbon panel.  Nothing stops AIDS like tying blue ribbons around gay men.  And it’s festive, too.

Abortion:  Governor Richardson is committed to keeping abortion safe and legal, easily accessible, and covered under Universal Health Care.  That way we can cut down on the number of babies born in the US.  You see, babies require lots of expensive care.  So the easiest way to keep health costs down is to abort as many of them as possible.  To that end, Richardson has already promised that when he becomes president, he will impose a Roe v. Wade litmus test on all new judges.

Medicinal Marijuana:  Oooh, Bill isn’t feeling so good.  He needs some medicine!

So if you’re a Democrat who’s puzzling over the many choices on your ballot this year, take it from me, a lifelong Republican.  Bill Richardson is your best bet.

Governor Richardson is homeless.  Let him move in to the White House!