Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Just to see how much gunfire I can receive in the comments box for this

Let me take issue with Papa Shea's characterization of John McCain:
With the exception of Brownback, the leadership seems to be crowded with people like McCain and Schwarzenegger, all saying "Don't stand so close to me" to the God First types. I have a feeling David Kuo won't be the last disappointed conservative Christian.

After that little interlude of 20 years or so of giving Christians conservatives a place at the table, the GOP seems to be now getting in touch with its inner Rockefeller again.

I wonder how long it will be before the divorce proceedings begin. I suspect if Bush tries another Harriet Miers, or picks a judge who betrays prolifers, conservative Christians will finally give it up. We'll see.

First of all, the idea that McCain has anything remotely identical with regard to the social views of Guiliani or Schwarzenegger is nothing short of slander. He had problem with the fact that Falwell and Robertson are nuts (though they seem to have reconciled of late), though that criticism like his continued arguments that we needed more troops in Iraq look a lot better in 2006 than they did in 2000. I have always been mystified as to why so many conservatives who care about issues rather than personalities are so eager to support Guiliani over McCain on the grounds that he is more loyal to the Republican Party. For me, the GOP is a means rather than an end to get certain policies enacted and as long as an individual is going to enact those policies I don't care if it's George Bush, John McCain, or Mr. Potatoe Head. All of Guiliani's supporters keep insisting that he'll triangulate, go for federalism, etc. Well, that's all well and good but he hasn't yet and until he does I'll support a candidate who holds my actual beliefs rather than one who might potentially do so in the future. At least the Corner has enough good sense to recognize this with the NRO web editor's crush on Mitt Romney.

I am also more than happy to defend my preferred presidential pick in the comments below.


paul zummo said...

I'll give it a go. The reason I dislike McCain so much has much to do with personality as anything else. I actually voted for McCain in the 2000 primary - which means that after 2008 I can say I voted for John McCain before I voted against him. I viewed him then as the "truer" conservative than Bush, and in fact that assessment may still stand. But after six years of kissing up to the media and glorying in his little maverick role, he's kind of worn me out. Throw that in with some very real policy disagreements - the truly heinous McCain-Feingold bill(BCRA), the gang of 14 deal, his backing of amnesty, etc. and I'm less than enthused about the prospects of him being the frontrunner.

Giuliani, on the other hand, is not a grandstander, and says what he means. So despite his socially liberal views, he just doesn't come off as being quite as sanctimonious. Also, as a native New Yorker I'm doubly appreciative of Giuliani, and also know him to be not quite as socially liberal as portrayed (see Brooklyn Museum of Art).

That said, I couldn't vote for him either. So the two prime candidates for the GOP are at this point both men I couldn't vote for in a general election. That's a bit of a problem. Rommey and Gingrich are both more palatable, but neither exactly lights the world afire. So here's hoping another option miraculously emerges.

paul zummo said...

That said, lumping McCain in with Scwarzeneger is idiotic. And shouldn't McCain be one of Shea's favorites, esepcially considering his stance on the torture issue?

Anonymous said...

I'd take Romney over McCain over Guiliani, but I'd only vote for the first two in the general.

torquemada05 said...

I certainly agree with you concerning personality, Paul, and from that perspective Guiliani definitely "seems" more conservative than McCain to those who are not familiar with either man's positions. I suspect that this is one of the reasons why Rudy can get a far better hearing from many conservatives than McCain, but as I tried to explain I'm far more interested in the issues rather than in the candidate, which is why I support Mr. Potatoe Head if he held the appropriate positions. I think that a plurality of the GOP base will as well whether or not they vote for McCain, otherwise we have reached the era when personalities trump principles and that road ends in Caesarism.

Guiliani, personality aside, supports a range of social policies that I do not wish extended or expanded. I am lukewarm on Romney, in large part due to the fact that near as I can determine he has had little that is substantive to say on foreign policy and his being electable in Massachusetts also puts him under some extra scrutiny in my book.

As far as the legislation McCain has proposed:

CFR - I really hate this and believe it to be an exceedingly bad idea, but he wasn't exactly a one-man show in supporting it. The fact that Bush gets a pass on having actually signed it into law from conservatives is in of itself something that has always surprised me. Nor have there been any major efforts by anyone politically to overturn it or even claim that they would do so.

Gang of 14 - Appears to have prevented a Democratic filibuster over Alito and Roberts, a +1 gain for conservatives on the Supreme Court that leaves us only one swing vote away from victory. I don't much care for what has happened to the regular judicial nominees as a result, but that is neither here nor there.

Amnesty - I need to write out a longer post to flesh out my thoughts on this topic. IMO, most of what passes for debate when it comes to immigration in the US is a false dilemma.

Christopher said...

The Republican Party is not going to nominate Giuliani for President. They simply aren't. Giuliani and Schwarzenegger are just straw men put up to argue that the GOP will cave on abortion, but they don't translate outside California and New York.

When it comes time to pick a GOP candidate, they're just not going to throw away all the flyover Red States for the slim chance of doing well in New York and California.

And in 2008, McCain will not be the man he was 8 years before.

paul zummo said...

Well, on BCRA, he wasn't just a supporter, but the author and principle cheerleader, so he gets double negative bonus points for it, though Bush's little punt to SCOTUS was indeed a joke. Similarly, he was (or seemed to be) the person who spearheaded the gang of 14 deal. It's admittedly a mixed bag, but in the long run, I think the GOP will have regretted not using the nuclear option.

I do think McCain has a better shot at getting through the primary than Giuliani. It really will come down to how many serious contenders there are. The more contenders, and the more ways the conservative vote can be split, the better for McCain.

torquemada05 said...

I was exceedingly skeptical of the Gang of 14 deal, but it did appear to get us two decent Supreme Court justices with relatively little hassle so I think that it needs to be acknowledged in any criticism of what he did. If we get a third justice (extremely unlikely IMO at this point because of the current Senate composition) without any further problems then we have gotten what we want. Retaining the filibuster as a viable tactic also appears to have at least some foresight to it given the GOP's current status. I certainly don't buy into the Hugh Hewitt line of argumentation that the Gang of 14 was responsible for the GOP's electoral woes if for no other reason than that it lets entirely too many people off the hook.

I definitely understand what you are saying about McCain-Feingold. As I said, I think it is extremely bad legislation. That said, I haven't noticed much of substantive change on how political campaigns have been conducted since it was enacted, which is one of the reasons why I suspect that there hasn't been a major push to repeal it.

Concerning other contenders, if they're out there than they are really running out of time to make themselves into national candidates in time to win the primaries. Of those who have expressed an interest in running for president, the only ones who actually mean anything to anyone but political junkies are McCain, Romney, Guiliani, and Gingrich now that Allen is almost certainly removed from the running. Other names that have been mentioned like Brownback, Huckabee, Hunter, et al simply do not have the national infrastructure or recognition to become viable candidates the way that the above four have.

Victor said...

I largely agree with Paul. Assuming that we're talking about the Republican primary, I can't imagine McCain being "the most rightward viable candidate" (the test I use). Sure, McCain is preferable to Roooody, on pro-life and gay "marriage" grounds. And, contra Paul, McCain (and Giuliani for that matter) are surely preferable to any conceivable Democrat in November.

As for Romney, doesn't the fact, Torque, that a Mormon conservative was able to win election in Massachusetts say something GOOD about him? (If you can point to where he's become a liberal substantively, fine, but not until.)

Sure, he has no foreign-policy experience, but the last president that was true of was George HW Bush, and the last before that was Richard Nixon. Not role models (certainly not the first-named) in my opinion. In 1980, Ronald Reagan was a former governor with nothing but a few known broad principles. Now clearly, Romney still has to "sell" himself on FP (he has no 64 Goldwater speech), but I'm not sure that I want a president with too-detailed a set of foreign-policy ideas. Far more than domestic policy and infinitely more than values issues, foreign policy is unpredictable in terms of the challenges it throws up. (Nobody in the 1988 race imagined that the winner would leave office in 1993 with no Soviet Union in existence, and a united Germany as a NATO member). In other words, it's all the Vision Thing, and that Romney (or anyone) could, in principle, provide in the next two years.

All that said, clearly the dream candidate would be be Brownback, if he catches on. Which he might because name recognition comes with being a candidate and having success (who outside their home states other than political junkies knew Jimmy Carter in 1975, Bill Clinton in 1990, John McCain in 1998 or John Kerry in 2002).

torquemada05 said...

A couple of points:

Because Rice has explicitly said that she isn't running contrary to the wishes of her admirers, that means that the only candidates who look like they have a decent shot of winning the primaries at this point are Guiliani and McCain. Of the two, I think that it is obvious who is preferable victor for those who are concerned about social issues.

Regarding Romney, I am not charging that he is liberal on policy issues, I'm sure that K-Lo over at NRO will be able to provide all kinds of verification as to his conservative bonafides. As far as foreign policy goes, I don't care whether or not he has any experience in the field (Rudy doesn't either but he's still good on this score), but near as I can determine he hasn't taken much of a position on Iraq, which is sort of ignoring the elephant in the room as far as foreign policy is concerned.

As far as Brownback catching on as a candidate, I would certainly support him as well. I simply don't think that he has a shot in hell of making it through the primaries.

Christopher Fotos said...

Romney is looking very good to me. For those who are interested, here's a link to Texans For Mitt Romney that has a brief rundown of his talking points.

McCain won't get my vote for a number of reasons, chief among them being the Constitutionally illiterate McCain-Feingold (CFR) bill. Giuliani was the indispensible man on 9/11 and did a great job of cleaning up New York, but I'd have a very hard time voting for a gun-controller and somone with his stance on pro-life issues. He's said some good things about the need for real border control, but then seques into how it's impossible to deport 12 million people and how he opposes "demagogic" talk about immigration, a coded message I received.

torquemada05 said...

I read through it and as I said, I don't have any reason to challenge the man on his domestic policies. Foreign policy, however, is sort of a big deal at this point and I'd be a lot more interested in getting Romney's take on Iraq and other issues that it seems to me he has basically avoided talking about for most of the last year or so. That's probably good political sense, but the idea that he doesn't have an opinion on these topics strikes me as somewhat disingenuous.

On Campaign Finance Reform, as I said I think that it was notoriously bad law if for no other reason than that its stated goal can be shown to have failed by any rational standard available. That said, it didn't look to me like there has been any effort underway to repeal the legislation despite 4 years of GOP majorities in Congress. For better or worse, it doesn't seem to be much of a priority politically. And I would continue to pose the question that if McCain is to be condemned for supporting CFR, Bush does not receive the same criticism even though he signed it into law. The argument that Bush knowingly signed legislation he believed to be unconstitutional with the intent of passing the buck to the Supreme Court doesn't exactly put him in the most favorable light, to put it quite frankly.

As far as Guiliani is concerned, he strikes me as the classic social liberal, fiscal conservative and was extremely effective in that role as mayor of NYC. That said, I take him at his word when he says that he actually believes in the positions that he hold rather than the claims by his supporters that he will modify his positions or views once he attains the presidency, something that he himself has never said or even implied. Frankly, the idea that he would cynically compromise his own views for political gain (few supporters have suggested that he would seriously change his mind on these issues in the next 2 years) doesn't speak that well of him IMO.

Victor said...

And I would continue to pose the question that if McCain is to be condemned for supporting CFR, Bush does not receive the same criticism even though he signed it into law.

Bush was playing go-along-to-get-along, as is his wont. Which is bad, sure.

McCain made Free-Speech Restrictions his pet issue, both in and out of the presidential race, forced it into the national debate, and made it The Cause it became. Which is far, far worse.

Christopher Fotos said...

And I would continue to pose the question that if McCain is to be condemned for supporting CFR, Bush does not receive the same criticism even though he signed it into law. The argument that Bush knowingly signed legislation he believed to be unconstitutional with the intent of passing the buck to the Supreme Court doesn't exactly put him in the most favorable light, to put it quite frankly.

You're absolutely right about Bush, it was one of his lowest moments.

But Bush isn't running.