Sunday, January 20, 2008

Review of the Republican Field

Electile Dysfunction. That's what Lisa Schiffren of NRO's the corner is calling it anyway: "Electile Dysfunction ....the inability to become aroused by any of the choices for president put forth by either party in the 2008 election year."

That I'm not pulling for a Democratic candidate is no surprise. That I'm still not enthusiastic about a Republican I think is (or should be?).

Two weeks ago, watching the New Hampshire ABC/Facebook Debate I came away with two distinct impressions: 1. Charles Gibson was a fantastic moderator who actually treated the candidates as adults and let them debate; 2. The field of candidates the Republicans are putting up is actually pretty good.

The New Hampshire Fox Debate thoroughly re-enforced my thoughts about the job Gibson did (which is saying something, since I'm an avid fan of Fox News Sunday, with Chris Wallace) but my opinion about the field started to slip. By the South Carolina Fox Debate my opinion about the Republican field was back to where it has been for most the primary reason ... which, summed up in a word, is unimpressed.

I think this quote from a column by Jonah Goldberg captures my thoughts well: "This slate of candidates has everything a conservative designer could want - foreign policy oomph, business acumen, Southern charm, Big Apple chutzpah, religious conviction, outsider zeal, even libertarian ardor - but all so poorly distributed ... Each of the men running for the Republican nomination has strengths, and none has everything - all the traits, all the positions - we are looking for."

Fred is/was a consistent conservative who's platform was based on foundations I could resonate with. But he refused to run a conventional campaign, which for reasons that I think include being ignored by the media and voters assuming "he doesn't have passion ... he can't win in November", have led to dismal results in the contests so far... So dismal that I'm left saying "Fred is/was" to start that previous sentence, because I can't believe Fred will stay in the race much longer.

Huckabee, God-bless-him, has great socially-conservative credentials. He's also a skilled communicator and politicians, which would be a welcome change from President Bush. But the Huckster leaves me without confidence in him on immigration and national defense, and his record is certainly not one of small limited government. I'm an Evangelical, so for a little while around Christmas, part of me wanted Huckabee to do OK. At this point though, with his record of large net-tax-increases as governor and his comments about a national smoking ban, my inner-libertarian is scared to death of what a Huckabee presidency would be like.

Ron Paul. He's never been a serious contender. I'm glad he was in a bunch of the debates and that he seems to have created quite the gathering of pro-small-government, pro-Constitution, 20-somethings. He doesn't get the threat of Islamo-fascsism though, and his Iraq-policy would be probably even more devastating than that of Clinton or Obama.

Guilliani. He's the inverse of Huckabee. As much as my inner-libertarian trumps my social conservatism to reject Huckabee, I'm enough of a social conservative to have to reject Rudy. If you lack the conviction that an unborn child is in fact a human life that should be projected by the government like all other human lives, you certainly don't get my primary vote ... you may not get my general election vote.

McCain. For a while I was of the mindset that if McCain was our best chance to win in November, OK, maybe I could support him. The more I look at McCain, the less I like him though. Because the conservative blogosphere is going crazy over McCain right now I'm going to try to knock out a McCain-specific post here shortly, so I'll save my McCain thoughts for then...

Which leaves us with Romney. I'm a little nervous about this, but I think I actually like Romney. I'm cautious about him though because there is a strong case to be made about him being a "flip flopper." The positions he took when he campaigned in Massachusetts were certainly more liberal than those is currently campaigning on. But, The Gipper also started out more liberal. I'm also encouraged that when push came to shove, Romney actually seems to have governed as a conservative (despite the liberal campaigning.) That the editors of National Review have endorsed him, trusting his current positions are authentic, also helps.

And so, for the last several weeks, I've decided my vote will be headed Romney's way on February 5th. But am I enthusiastc about it? Nope ... I'm still suffering from electile dysfunction.


Anonymous said...


I have to say, of all the real candidates, I like Romney the least! Here are some of the reasons:

George W. Bush won the last election because Kerry was painted as a "flip-flopper". Romney makes Kerry look like the "Straight Talk Express." Romney was pro-life, anti-gay, then pro-choice and pro-gay, and is now pro-life, anti-gay. Changing your position on a major issue once COULD be an epiphany, changing it twice is definitely expediency. The American public will see that and he'll never win.

Romney is a terrible speaker. Not because he fumbles through, but because he sounds fake. Would anybody trust Romney when he talks?

Romney admitted to liking "mandates." What does your libertarian side think about forcing all Americans to do certain things?

Romney has no national defense criteria and never talks tough. When he tries to talk tough, he's not believable.

I also do not know who I want to be President, but out of the four realistic dogs left in this fight, Romney is last on my list in terms of preference. At least the rest of the field has been consistent!

kazoolist said...


All valid criticisms. And it's a shame it boils down to this, but despite those criticisms, Romney still comes off as being the least flawed to me (well, other than Fred, but like I said ... I don't think he's going to make it).

One question: Why do you say he "flip-flop-flipped" (pro-life to pro-abortion to pro-life)? This is news to me. I've watched plenty of footage in his earlier race(s) where speaks of being personally pro-life but would govern pro-choice (like Rudy now), but what did he run for before those where he claimed to be pro-life?

kazoolist said...

Dave - I should also add, there is a small part of me that hopes that the guy you described as "a Pro-Choice, Pro-Gay, Anti-Gun, twice divorced man whose children don't even want to vote for him" wins the nomination.

I really would have a hard time voting for Rudy in a primary, but he does offer solid fiscal and defense conservatism credentials, and if he'll hold the line on judges...

*sigh*. This whole slate of candidates really does leave me in an awfully disappointed state.

Anonymous said...

Romney on Abortion:

His Position: Complete Support of Roe v Wade

"I believe abortion should be safe and legal in this country."


New Position: Not prochoice, but not anti-abortion

'I do not wish to be labeled prochoice"


Third Position: I'm really not in favor of abortion, but I would never stop it either.

"I will protect a Woman's Right to Choose."
"A woman who does not want her parents to know can go to a judge and get permission for an abortion. Again, I will protect a woman's right to choose."

"I will not make any changes to make it more difficult for a woman to choose."


His Fourth Position: A National Ban

"(I) support a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the 14th Amendment's protections apply to unborn children," Romney said, "You know, I do support the Republican platform, and I support that being part of the Republican platform and I'm pro-life."

-August 6th, 2007

His Fifth Position: No National Ban, State Rights

Asked by Ralston if it was "OK" with him that Nevada is a "pro-choice state," Romney said, "I'd let states make their own decision in this regard. My view, of course, is I'm a pro-life individual. That's the position I support. But, I'd let states have this choice rather than let the federal government have it."

-August 21st, 2007

Final Position?: Romney's camp issued a statement saying that what Romney MEANT to say was that he's in favor of a complete ban but its more practical to use state rights.

-August 22nd, 2007

My biggest problem with Mitt Romney is his flat out disregard for any ethics or morals. Rather, Romney will do anything he thinks he needs to for votes.

Romney has flip-flopped on abortion and gay rights.

In Florida this week, Romney offered eliminating Social Security taxes on seniors to pander to the base.

Romney was for gay rights, then against them, then looked forward to Gay's serving "openly" in the military. Romney recently was asked about it and said that we shouldn't have gays in the military.

Romney has no spine, no bearing.

Bottom line with Guiliani is, he's a pure libertarian. But on the issues I disagree with him, Abortion, Gay-Rights, Gun-Control, he would have little or no effect. But atleast I know his positions, and his leadership ahead of time.

Guiliani would be a great president because he could actually lead. Romney's a poll follower, and quite frankly, I don't want the polls to be our national leader.

kazoolist said...

On abortion, I still only see Romney having flipped. The quotes you lay out are consistent with my understanding of him going from a.) personally opposed, publicly in favor of; to b.) personally opposed, publicly opposed.

And, I also agree with you about his pandering in Florida (he did about the same in Michigan). Again, they are valid points, just not enough to push me over to wanting Rudy or McCain or or Paul Huckabee instead.

I do want to disagree with you that Rudy's a "libertarian." He's fiscally conservative, and socially liberal, true enough. He's also prone to leading a powerful, authoritarian, government to get things done, including taking measures like banning guns, which flies in the face of libertarianism.

Maybe you and I can compromise to just agree that McCain and the Huckster aren't our top choices, and then we'll see where the Mitt and Rudy cards may fall? :)