Do We Need A New Reagan?

In the recent election, one phrase kept cropping up in Republican and conservative circles: “Is _____ the next Reagan?” Many names were offered, from Mitt Romney to Sarah Palin to Bobby Jindal, among others. The Reagan-ness of various individuals was hotly debated, with various people touting their favorite candidate’s wit, political savvy, and conservative principles. It seems that no one ever thought to ask whether we actually needed a new Reagan. Michael Reagan referred to Palin as “my dad reborn,” and even Gay Patriot’s thoughtful piece on the differences between Palin and Obama used Reagan as the gold standard, without questioning this comparison.

Large portions of the Republican and conservative voting bases have fond memories of the 40th President. He inspired many people to become involved in politics for the first time, and was generally perceived to be winsome and witty. There’s no denying his impact, but a time comes when even the best image must be put aside, lest it become an idol. Some have allowed their memories of President Reagan to become a Bed of Procrustes on which to sacrifice any up-and-coming conservative politician: the politician must fit the bed, or it is off to the “RINOs” with him!

Many reliable conservative sites, such as and National Review did not fall into this mentality (at least, not often) but even these powerhouses of conservative thought frequently trumpet Reagan’s remembrance over all others. One often wonders if these pundits would resurrect Reagan and re-elect him if they could.

Reagan is not coming back. Even if he were the perfect President-a highly debatable notion, to say the least!–he will not return, so to spend so much time fervently hoping for such a resurrection smacks of political idolatry. Conservatives, and Americans in general, have historically despised the notion of a political savior, someone who will come and make all our decisions for us. Reagan himself never espoused such a hope. It has always been up to Americans to vote, become active in their communities, and do what can be done.

Many conservatives argue that it’s not so much the man himself that they revere, but the principles he governed by. Fair enough. But one of the foundational principles of conservatism is that freedom comes from personal responsibility, not a political savior or a right-wing state. Our trust is in God and in ourselves, not the State, and certainly not the President.

Enough, then, with the retroactive king-making. Let upcoming politicians develop their own identity, and show the world what they have to offer. Let the next generation of voters, many of whom have no memory of Reagan, choose their own heroes. Remember the man, and honor his service to his country, but do not make him the measure of every election.

John McCain: Plain Spoken Heroism

By John Mark Reynolds
John McCain cannot give a great speech, but he has lived a great life. He has done great things, but he wants to do more. Tonight John McCain did well, but Sarah Palin gave the speech everyone will remember. Her soaring rhetoric met her promising reality and caused a national explosion of interest in the Republican Party.
She beat Obama as the most watched speech this year.
That is fine with the Maverick, because he is not known for his rhetoric, but his reality. Nobody can match his reality.
John McCain was inspirational, especially at the end, because he is an American hero running to serve his nation.
His speech was about what he would do and what he believed. It was straight and clear and McCain was unbowed as he gave it. When interrupted by aging protesters, he waved them off, because John McCain has seen war protesters, perhaps even those very same people, before in worse circumstances.
McCain became eloquent as he talked about his desire to serve.
At the end John McCain stopped giving a speech and began to talk about why he wants to be president. If there is one thing you have to believe is that he will, in his words, fight for America as long as he has breath . . . so help him God.
He is a moderate man and has moderate ambitions.
He is a hero, but he has the humility of a man who became a hero by being crushed by adversity. If there was a day when he was hot headed, it is plain that time has mellowed him. John McCain is not the president for anyone who wants great words, but he is the president for Americans who want someone who knows who to fight, when to fight, and where to fight.
He is a quiet fighter for a changed Washington. He is running to be a servant leader and not savior of America.
John McCain did, as he always has, what he had to do tonight. We can be pretty sure that if elected, he will do the same.

Around the Horn: Sarah Palin for Vice-President

John McCain has announced his choice for Vice-President. Sarah Palin is McCain’s choice for the next president of the United States should something happen to him while in office.
Media outlets are buzzing with stories about McCain’s interesting and unexpected nominee choice – here is a quick trip around the horn on McCain-Palin 08:
The Trumpet Resounds
Tim Grieve and Jonathan Martin give voters unfamiliar with Sarah Palin a quick history of the Republican governor from Alaska.
Trumpeting from the Left
Comparing her to Dan Quayle, Kos celebrates the end of an election about “experience,” “Obama is not ready to lead” attack lines. Those are dead… Palin is also a an ideologue, on choice, on the environment, on energy — all the way down the line. This an ideological pick…McCain has abandoned any notion of playing for the center. He’s looking to shore up his right flank and hoping that the Evangelical Right can somehow drag McCain over the line.”
Joshua Marshall at Talking Points Memo echoes Kos line about experience adding that Palin enters the race with baggage that could weigh McCain’s campaign down. “It’s a daring pick but I think a very weak pick. I’m perfectly happy with it. Palin is in the midst of a reasonably serious scandal in her home state. Her brother-in-law is a state trooper who is in the midst of an ugly custody battle with her sister. And she’s accused of getting the state police to fire him.”
Clinton campaign adviser Howard Wolfson notes the stinging question: “… you are going to have a lot of women voters wondering why Senator Obama didn’t tap Senator Clinton as his running mate.Trumpeting from the Middle
Jonathan Martin gives the upsides and downsides of a Palin pick. Upside: “Palin is a strong conservative, opposing abortion rights and enjoying a life membership in the NRA.” Downside: “She has no foreign policy experience whatsoever. She’s also entirely untested on the national political stage.”
Klause Marre at The Hill believes that Palin is a “high-risk, high-reward” candidate. It works to her benefit that she is outside the Beltway (way outside the Beltway) but she disagrees with McCain on ANWAR and supports drilling in that region.
Trumpeting from the Right
Fred Barnes gives a celebratory narrative of the relatively unknown governor. According to Barnes, Palin was the star born in the 2006 dark night of conservative politics: “The triumph came in Alaska where Sarah Palin, a politician of eye-popping integrity, was elected governor. She is now the most popular governor in America, with an approval rating in the 90s, and probably the most popular public official in any state. Her rise is a great (and rare) story of how adherence to principle–especially to transparency and accountability in government–can produce political success.”
Katherine Jean Lopez at National Review poignantly notes that any charge of inexperience leveled against vice-presidential pick Palin can be reflected back to Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama. The media is in a quandary. Lopez seems happy with the tap saying, “That’s what authentic authenticity looks like.”
Michelle Malkin is “impressed. Very impressed.” She is tracking responses from the right.
Blowing My Own Horn
I agree with the buzz that McCain’s pick re-affirms his reputation as a maverick.
I am concerned that Palin does not bring many (if any) key battleground states such as Colorado or Michigan firmly into the McCain camp which would have happened in the event of a Romney or Pawlenty nod. However, I do not resonate with celebration on the Left about the death of the “experience” attack line.
Defined by experience, clearly there is a mentor/mentee relationship occurring on both tickets. However, the Republicans are not running their mentee as the presidential candidate. The vice-presidency has traditionally been understood as a preparatory role for the presidency. Therefore, it seems appropriate that John McCain would choose to groom a young, conservative star for the presidency by tapping her to be his VP nominee.
One final thought which I have not seen in the blogosphere as of yet. I am energized. I am a young, evangelical, conservative voter and I did not expect to be so energized by McCain’s vice-presidential choice. However, Palin is a woman who has a right philosophy of life and family issues. She glows with the kind of youthful authenticity that gave the pre-Rezko Obama his appeal. She fights oil companies where it makes sense to do so but does not bow before the altar of those who forget that nature is ours to steward, not worship.
I am energized. My conservative friends who are politically savvy are energized. People unfamiliar with her who find out about her story and her political philosophy become energized. Wake up Republicans, wake up conservative evangelicals, it is a new day.

Super Tuesday Too:
Reflections on the OH and TX Primaries

The Longest Two Months— While it seems like an eternity has passed, the Iowa Caucus was only 60 days ago. Fortunately this is the last of the significant primaries and the race has been decided on one side and all but determined on the other.
Congrats to McCain — If winning makes you look smarter, then campaign manager Rick Davis appears to be a genius. He laid out McCain’s Path to Victory in December and found a way to make it a reality.
Thanks, Governor Huckabee — I have many reasons to be thankful for Governor Huckabee’s inspiring Presidential run. But there are three other groups who should also be grateful for Mike Huckabee: social conservatives who lacked a voice in the primaries, supporters of John McCain, and Republicans.
If the Republican’s hold the White House next year, Huckabee will deserve partial credit. By winning in Iowa, Huckabee derailed Romney’s campaign and prevented the Massachusetts Governor’s long march toward an inevitable electoral debacle. Huckabee also managed to keep many conservative evangelicals and other members of the traditionalist wing of the party engaged in the race. Their support for McCain may be listless, but Huckabee gave them hope that it may be too soon to give up on the GOP.
An Inevitable Obamination? Maybe Not. — After the Florida primary I wrote, “An Obama/Anyone ticket would be a disaster for McCain.” I still pessimistic enough to believe that it’s likely, though I’m hopeful that the abomination of an Obama presidency is not yet inevitable. I’m even starting to see signs that such a disaster may be averted. The reason: people are starting to listen to what Obama says.
Take, for instance, his NAFTA-bashing which has caused our neighbors to the north to worried about the “rhetoric of protectionism.” Even Andrew Sullivan, who swoons at the mention of Obama, said the NAFTA pander was “Not his finest hour.” (Yes it’s a tepid response and yes we all know that if Obama wins that Sullivan will spend the next four years regretting his support (as he did with Bush), but still, any relenting from his incessant Obamafawning is a huge concession.)
Obama has an uncanny ability to inspire in people an audacious hope for the impossible (Example: “The philosophy guy said that he almost always votes for Republican, but he’s for Obama this time, although he can’t quite explain why. His hope is that Obama will govern like a Republican.”) But I’m hopeful that such people will set aside such nonsense and eventually realize that while Obama sounds like a cross between Cicero and The Rock, what he’s saying is nothing more than rehashed discredited liberalism.
Rush to Idiocy — So Rush Limbaugh is urging people to vote for Hillary. Hugh Hewitt is aghast (“If Hillary ekes out close wins, stays alive, gains the nomination and the White House, will Rush hold the Bible at her Inauguration?”) but I can’t say that I’m really surprised. Rush is an entertainer and for all the hype about his ratings, his audience isn’t that large by show business standards (he has half the audience of Fox’s reality show Moment of Truth). He needs a Clinton presidency to remain relevant and give people a reason to tune in to his daily gasbaggery.
Still, I refuse to believe it worked. I refuse to believe that Republicans in Ohio and Texas are voting for Hillary in the primary because some radio clown told them it was the optimal strategy. I refuse to believe it because (a) the fact that McCain is the nominee shows that Rush is not that influential and (b) Republicans can’t be that stupid. (While I’m certain about (a) could I be wrong about (b)?)
I agree with Lars Walker: “It seems to me that if you love this country you’ve got to hold the electoral process in a kind of reverence. The fact that there are cynical people out there who game the system doesn’t justify us, the people who say we believe in moral absolutes, in pretending to belong to a different party so we can sabotage its nomination process. If they did it to us, I’d be angry about it.”
Say it ain’t so, Republicans; say you didn’t stoop that low.
The Most Significant Number — In 2004, Ohio proved to be the key state for President Bush’s reelection victory. In a tight race, Bush beat John Kerry in the Buckeye State by 118,457 votes. So how does it look four years later? With 81% of the precincts in Ohio reporting, the Democratic candidates received 1,745,199 votes while the Republicans received less than half that amount — 867,000.
If the GOP is relying on a victory in Ohio to shift the Red-Blue divide toward McCain then we’re in serious trouble.

Welcome to CPAC, Rudy

According to the reports coming out of the annual Conservative Political Action Committee conference, Rudy Giuliani drew “huge crowds” and was treated like a “rock star.” I find this disconcerting. Are the people attending CPAC completely unaware of Giuliani’s positions? If so they need to watch this video:

Supported Roe, gun control, illegal immigration, partial-birth abortion, gay rights, allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military, McCain-Feingold. At the end of this video he even jokes that he’d like to run “on the Democratic line.” Since his positions match up so well to the Democrat’s platform, he could — and he’d probably win.

Breaking the 11th:
Speaking Ill of Republicans

[Note: My friends at In the Agora have declared today “Breaking the 11th,” in honor of Ronald Reagan’s famous 11th Commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.” As they point out, “Of course, Reagan himself often broke this rule, with good reason, and so shall we.” “Breaking the 11th” is a day for us to rise up and hold Republicans accountable for not upholding the principles we claim to value. In honor of the holiday (and with apologies to Eliza Kazan) I am “naming names”: expressing my displeasure with certain key Republican leaders.]
In the past weeks intolerable rumors about my political position have been circulating in the blogosphere. I want to make my stand clear:
I believe that Republican activities confront the people of this country with an unprecedented and exceptionally tough problem. That is, how to protect ourselves from a dangerous and alien conspiracy and still keep the free, open, healthy way of life that gives us self-respect.
I believe that the American people can solve this problem wisely only if they have the facts about the GOP. All the facts. Now, I believe that any American who is in possession of such facts has the obligation to make them known, either to the public or to the appropriate Government agency.
Whatever hysteria exists–and there is some, particularly in the blogosphere–is inflamed by mystery, suspicion and secrecy. Hard and exact facts will cool it.
The opinions I have are sixteen weeks out of date, but they supply a small piece of background to the graver picture of Republicanism today. I have placed these opinions before the House Committee on Un-American Activities without reserve and I now place them before the public and before my peers in the blogosphere:

Continue reading Breaking the 11th:
Speaking Ill of Republicans

The Conscience of a (Christian) Conservative:
Why I’m a Reluctant Republican

While it initially began in the early 1980’s, for the past several years there has been an increasing concern in America that the term evangelical has become synonymous with being a Republican. I’ve tried to understand why some people have formed this impression. I’ve listened to their worries and given serious thought to how they could have developed this misperception. I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason many people believe that being a conservative Christian means marching in lockstep with the GOP is that many conservative Christians march in lockstep with the GOP.
Mark Byron has found a particularly egregious example of this mindset. In a recent interview on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Pat Robertson, the voice of evangelicalism, was asked to represent our views on the next presidential election:

Stephanopoulos: If the party chooses a moderate like John McCain or Rudy Giuliani, do you think religious conservatives will split off and form a third-party movement?”
Robertson: “I don’t think so. Rudy’s a very good friend of mine, and he did a super job running the City of New York. And I think he’d make a good president. I like him a lot. Although he doesn’t share all of my particular points of view on social issues, he’s a very dedicated Catholic. And he’s a great guy. McCain, I’d vote against under any circumstance”

While I wish we could simple dismiss this as another of Rev. Robertson’s pearls of wisdom, some people actually believe that he’s a serious representative of evangelical politics. Take, for instance, Jon Avlon, a columnist for the New York Sun and blogger at Real Clear Politics, who writes:

Continue reading The Conscience of a (Christian) Conservative:
Why I’m a Reluctant Republican

Derailing the Straight Talk Express:
Why John McCain Must Be Stopped

During the 1992 election season I lived in Washington D.C., surrounded by the constant buzz of political discussion. Although no one could talk about anything else, many people were unenthused about the choice between the lackluster incumbent President and the womanizing governor from Arkansas.
Knowing I was from Texas, a friend confided that she was considering supporting the intriguing third party candidate from my home state — Ross Perot. She admitted that while she didn ‘

Bringing Charges of Hypocrisy:
Tom Delay and the Indictment Rule

While reading Power Line I discovered that a reader named Michael Wuflestad sent them the following email:

Help, I searched your site, NRO’s, Hewitt’s, Joe Carter’s (the evangelical outpost) for at least the lock-step GOP spin on DeLay’s pardon-the-pun “pardon” in burying the Rostenkowski’s indictment rules. The silence is deafening.

While I consider it an honor to be mentioned in the same league as NRO, Hugh, and the PL crew, I don’t think it’s surprising that I didn ‘