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The Conservative Reader:
Iowa

New GOP Chair Could Be Elected As Soon As Saturday

New GOP Chair Could Be Elected As Soon As Saturday

In hopes of making a seamless transition in leadership, the odds of using an already scheduled meeting of the State Central Committee to choose a new leader is becoming increasingly likely.

Fellow blogger, and State Central Committee member, David Chung is all over the story.  Please check out the link below that will take you to his site HawkeyeGOP.com.  I have been a reader of his for a while now–besides being a reasoned voice from inside the Party, he has shown absolute fairness in dealing with all issues.

Not only does he touch on the rules governing the process, he gives a brief rundown of the three known candidates to replace Matt Strawn, who recentley stepped down as Chairman of the Party.

Click here for David Chung’s story at HawkeyeGop.com

Breaking News: Iowa GOP Chair Strawn Steps Down

Breaking News: Iowa GOP Chair Strawn Steps Down

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn has just stepped down from his position as leader of the party.

Over the last several weeks there have been public calls for him to step aside following the handling of the razor-close Iowa Caucus results earlier this year. Though the voices calling for his resignation were relatively few, they were also very loud.  Along with the public calls for action, high ranking Central Committee members were very disappointed with the handling of the Caucus results, and were internally seeking changes at the top.

Below is the official press release sent out by former-Chairman Strawn, a link to his video statement, and the press release issued by Gov. Branstad.

Official Strawn Press Release

January 31, 2012

Dear Iowa Republican:

In December 2008, when I campaigned to serve as your Chairman, my top goal was to make the Iowa GOP a relevant force again in Iowa politics by ushering in an era where the Republican Party returned to winning elections without betraying our conservative principles.

Over the past three plus years, we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. We witnessed sweeping Republican electoral victories at all levels. We saw an explosion in new Republican voters with an unprecedented 34 consecutive months of Iowa GOP voter registration gains. We kept the Iowa Caucuses First-in-the-Nation. We broke fundraising records, hosted the largest Republican presidential caucus in history, and for the first-time ever, the Iowa GOP co-hosted three nationally televised presidential debates that were watched by millions. Most importantly, Iowa Republicans accomplished all this and more working together as a team.

Simply put, your Iowa GOP is better off than it was four years ago thanks to outstanding team work. Your Iowa GOP is a relevant force again in Iowa politics. Your Iowa GOP is winning elections with leaders who are advancing our principled agenda. Your Iowa GOP is in a position to re-elect our members of Congress, win an Iowa Senate majority, and make Iowa’s six electoral votes the national battleground in the 2012 presidential campaign.

While the election wins, fundraising successes and media appearances are the aspects of being Chairman that gain the most attention, the most rewarding aspect of my service was the opportunity to travel our state and get to know the people of Iowa. The strength of the rebuilt Iowa GOP rests in the hands of the thousands of committed volunteer activists who give their time, treasure and talents to make Iowa a better place by working to elect public servants who share our values and principles.

The Iowa GOP designs its position of Chairman to be volunteer in nature. But over the past three years I have treated the privilege of serving as your Chairman as a full-time calling. There’s no question the job of rebuilding our party was a huge one, and one to which I committed every minute that was necessary to succeed.

It is only because the Iowa GOP has returned as a strong and relevant voice in Iowa politics that I am now able to evaluate all the competing priorities in my personal, business and political life. The party is strong and has the resources in place for victory in November. Now is the time to transition to new leadership.

Effective February 10, I will be ending my service as your Chairman. For this fifth generation Iowan and Benton County farm kid, serving as your Chairman has been an honor, a privilege and the opportunity of a lifetime.

To victory,

Matthew N. Strawn

     **Click for Strawn video**

     **Gov. Branstad press release thanking Matt Strawn**

84th General Assembly: Preview of Coverage

84th General Assembly: Preview of Coverage

The gaveling in of the Iowa Legislature’s 84th General Assembly last week signaled an end to the 2012 Presidential Caucus season and the return of a more local political focus for Iowans.

There is no doubt that much of the session’s oxygen will be sucked up by the major issues that failed to produce any legislation following last year’s battles. These issues include reforming the tax code, mental health services, and education, as well as another round of sparring over Iowa setting up a health insurance exchange to work in conjunction with Obama Care.

While these will grab a majority of the headlines, and a good share of our attention here at The Conservative Reader: Iowa, there have already been a number of very interesting bills introduced that we will also be following.

As of now the bills and issues outside “the big 4” that we have flagged to watch closely are as follows: Term limits, random drug testing for recipients 84th of certain state benefits, banning red light and speed cameras, and the fate of nuclear power in Iowa.

After being deluged for so many months with candidates and their ever changing poll numbers, it is easy to forget that in many ways the caucus season is an imperfect method for measuring Iowa’s current ideological perspective. Removing the factors attached to individual candidates such as “likeability” and “electability”, and instead gauging the debate and the public reaction of Iowans to more hyper-local issues is a far more telling indicator of where we stand. Ironically these debates and their results likely will tip our hand as to which Presidential candidate will be awarded our 6 electoral votes in November.

In the following weeks stay tuned for investigations, updates, analysis, and opinions on the major issues being debated at the State House. As mentioned earlier, while we will not ignore the most publicized topics of debate this session, a number of bills that will exist in the shadows of the major priorities are just as important.

Though we will be closely watching with an appropriate level of skepticism, we wish all those involved with the 84th General Assembly well in their efforts to make improvements for all Iowans. When we feel they have achieved improvement—we will trumpet it. When we feel they have caused damage to our way of life—they will be called to account.

On with Democracy…

Willie Nelson and Walking Toward Gingrich

Willie Nelson and Walking Toward Gingrich

“After carefully considering the whole situation, I stand with my back to the wall. And walking is better, than running away…and crawling ain’t no good at all”

Willie Nelson—Lyrics to “Walking” (1974)

While not known for his astute political analysis, with these lyrics Willie Nelson has managed to perfectly describe the conundrum myself and millions of other voters face in selecting a candidate to support for president amongst the Republican field.

For months now GOPers have been carefully considering the whole situation, and have yet to settle on anyone. With the voting only two weeks away a majority of those undecided now officially are standing with their backs against the wall.

In this regard I am no different—laid here are the reasons I am currently walking, and not running, toward Newt Gingrich. Like any well thought out decision there are three main factors at play—the mind, the gut, and the legitimate reservations. The following is an honest, pull-no-punches account of my thought process for each.

The Mind

The reason why the polls have been a roller coaster in this cycle is fairly simple—you have a massive pool of Conservative voters and not one single, unquestionably consistent Conservative, who could certainly beat President Obama. My sense is that the field does have strong Conservatives, namely Bachmann and Santorum, but neither have been able to garner the support necessary to win the White House—and Ron Paul will have to be addressed in full at some other time. As the polls suggest, the two with the best chance at unseating Obama are Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

This being the case, the exercise has come down to a question of who I feel is more Conservative between the two and who has the better chance of successfully vocalizing Conservative philosophy to the general electorate. On both counts my answer is Newt Gingrich. As we have seen in the Republican primary, the debates between President Obama and the Republican nominee are going to be viewed by a record amount of people and will largely be the deciding factor for Independents.

Perhaps no figure in modern political history has more of a gift for the debate stage than Newt Gingrich. Making this an even larger advantage is the mythic narrative that President Obama is some legendary debater. While last cycle he may have gotten the better of Hillary Clinton and John McCain overall, he never blew either off the stage (and managed to lose to both on multiple occasions).

Along with his debate prowess, there are two other things that make me comfortable with the idea of Newt as the nominee and as President. First is his deep understanding and respect for history. Whether it be American or world history, his decision making process would be solidly grounded in the actions and outcomes of past situations. I happen to think that had the filter of history been applied to many of the decisions made by our last two presidents, many of the undesirable results we have seen could have been avoided.

Second is the structure and proven results of the concept of a “Contract with America”. The 1994 contract saw roughly 70% of its content become law—and that was with a Democrat in the White House. Any Republican taking a serious look at his “21st Century Contract with America” would likely agree that achieving even 50% of its content would result in our Country standing on immensely more solid ground than it is currently. Clearly there is no time now to go through the platform item by item, however, you can review it in detail or read a brief highlight of it here. It is only fair that serious Republicans inspect this document before discounting Mr. Gingrich.

The Gut

The biggest source of apprehension I have toward Mitt Romney is his striking similarity to our 43rd president. George W. Bush’s eight year application of a watered down “compassionate Conservatism” did a great deal of damage to the viability of the philosophy. I can’t help but shake the feeling that when inevitably faced with unpredicted situations, a President Romney would not be guided through these times of crisis by Constitutional Conservatism. Instead I see him falling back on the identical political pragmatism that Mr. Bush turned to when the pressure was on.

While certainly not without its own risks, I also prefer Gingrich’s personality to Romney’s in the area of foreign policy. My view is that in general, and especially with the Iranian nuclear situation, many of America’s national security interests can be forwarded through an aggressive posture. Though it is a fine line to walk, putting a reasonable fear into rogue nations could—as proven by Reagan—actually help us avoid potential conflicts. A Romney-foreign-policy approach would likely be strictly by the book (i.e. painfully cautious and deferential), and result in a more-of-the-same outcome. Though I see positives in both approaches, I feel our enemies would have a greater fear of (and hence a greater respect for) a President Gingrich.

At a time when a dramatic move toward the Right is a legitimate possibility, on nearly every issue Mitt Romney is far too timid for my taste. One perfect example is in the area of Federal income tax policy. The enthusiasm throughout the country for major tax reform has never been greater, yet in this climate the proposal offered from Romney is to keep the top rate at 35% and largely leave the current structure intact. Though it could use some tweaking, the Gingrich proposal is for an optional 15% flat tax, where each taxpayer could choose to use the old system or opt for the flat rate. This is emblematic of the level of change the former Speaker is willing to push for—and the type of transformation Mitt Romney will never champion.

The Reservations

The fact that a voter would have reservations about their candidate is only natural. Having said that, the lengthy nature of his list points to why I am walking, and not running, toward Mr. Gingrich.

According to my television and mailbox, and no doubt yours too, not only should Gingrich be checked off our short list—he should be arrested and checked in to Guantanamo Bay. These attacks are largely overblown rubbish, but there are three main factors I view as legitimate reasons for apprehension. Like Romney, Newt’s career includes multiple examples of unsettling “political flexibility”, his past personal life has often been a mess, and a rather large number of his former Republican colleagues have been outspoken against him (noteworthy on this list for me is Tom Coburn, whom I respect greatly).

Quite honestly these things have made the decision a far more anguished one than it has been in the past—or that it ought to be I might add. If I insisted on taking solace it would be found in the fact that while both candidates I view as being able to win the nomination and defeat President Obama have strong negatives—both would be an upgrade for the Country.

The Conclusion

I personally want the Republican Party, and the Country, to move significantly to the Right. I want the 10th Amendment to be respected, the enumerated powers to be followed, and for personal responsibility to once again be required and not optional. I do not see Mitt Romney doing this to the extent I want. In my eyes Newt Gingrich is, as George Will says, the most Conservative candidate who can win.

Like it will for many voters, my decision largely came down to a risk vs. reward ratio—and there is no doubt in my mind that Mitt Romney would be the safer choice. Given the circumstances, what America needs right now is a real and powerful constraint on Federal power. Of the nationally viable candidates, Gingrich—and the 21st Century Contract—comes the closest to my vision of a positive American future…For this reason I am willing to roll the dice.

 

Photo courtesy of Dave Davidson, whose outstanding work can be seen at Prezography.com


Willie Nelson and Walking Toward Gingrich

Why the Des Moines Register Shouldn’t Bother Endorsing A Republican This Year

While not big news that Iowa Republicans don’t wait with bated breath for the Des Moines Register to anoint a Republican candidate the cream of the presidential crop, in recent years their recommendations have barely risen above laughable fodder. Since we could all use some comic relief from this seemingly endless campaign season, let’s take a look back at the Register’s recent forays into Presidential advocacy. What follows are two main reasons, among many others, why they should stick to merely reporting on the political pulse of Iowa—instead of trying to alter it.

Reason #1 – A Sketchy, Schizophrenic History

While nearly all the data on editorial board endorsements show that they have a miniscule impact, if any at all, well over 70% of newspapers insist on letting readers in on their intense, well researched, and agenda free vetting. Though a nightmare for the hard journalism side of the paper, the hubris of editors and the short term buzz created by endorsements proves, cycle after cycle, too intoxicating to deny. Clearly I have no problem with public expressions of political opinion. If a newspaper wants to engage in it in spite of the fact it is counter-intuitive to their charter, then they have every right. However, one does have to wonder if it’s too much to expect for them to undertake the process with a minimal amount of intellectual honesty. Consider the following examples, all from the Des Moines Register’s editorial board since the year 2000.

• When contrasted against a Democrat, they have not deemed any Republican candidate fit for the White House in the last three cycles—opting for Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008.

• Of the Republican primary field in 2000 they chose, believe it or not, George W. Bush. Beyond the massive irony, what’s interesting is that they chose Bush over fellow competitor John McCain, describing McCain as “having a tendency toward petulance when the cameras were off, and a lone-wolf style of action that has left him without the support of colleagues who should be his biggest admirers”. Never mind that eight years later he was chosen by the editorial board as the best choice amongst Republicans in 2008—though of course he ultimately fell short of recommending.

• In 2004 The Register had sized up John Edwards and concluded that he would make the finest president amongst the group, giving him the nod over all other Democrats running. Somehow over the next four years, he had regressed so far in his ability to lead the Country that when he came back in 2008 they couldn’t recommend him. Not only did they bump him from their top spot they slid him behind both Hillary Clinton and Obama, saying they “too seldom saw the ‘positive, optimistic’ campaign we found so appealing in 2004. His harsh anti-corporate rhetoric would make it difficult to work with the business community to forge change.” Something tells me the editorial board doesn’t have quite the same problem with the “harsh anti-corporate rhetoric” being screamed by the Occupy Wall Street crowd today.

• Also in 2004, in what would prove to be perfect foreshadowing for their future love affair with Barack Obama, the paper, as mentioned above, endorsed John Edwards over the rest of the field. In doing so they wrote that after initially discounting Edwards because of his lack of experience, they changed their minds after hearing him eloquently speak about the needs of ordinary Americans—you can’t make this stuff up! Clearly their weakness/hunger for the fool proof combination of inspired speech giving and inexperience had not been quenched by the time 2008 rolled around. This leads us to the biggest piece of evidence that all the Register is accomplishing is insulting our intelligence…

Reason #2-  The 2008 Debacle

While the preceding examples were shady, The Register’s editorial board performance in 2008 showed beyond a reasonable doubt not only where their allegiance lay, but that the whole point of their endorsements are to further an agenda. They ended up of course endorsing Barack Obama in the general election, but it’s the way they got there that is so telling.

First, they chose Hillary over Obama on the Democrat side, while endorsing McCain over the rest of the field on the Republican side. I don’t doubt that the selection of McCain was largely due to him being the most moderate Republican in the field (though strangely he was a disturbing ‘petulant, lone-wolf actor’ eight years earlier), but he also would have been a “safe” choice at the time because he was polling in single digits and in 5th place. Picking a Republican that would not go on to win the nomination, like McCain appeared to be at the time, would have kept them out of the undesirable situation they eventually found themselves in—having to endorse their second Democratic pick over their first Republican choice (Obama over McCain).

Embarrassed and knowing they had to explain it away somehow, they managed to make themselves look even worse. They acknowledged the situation and explained their reasoning by claiming they had endorsed McCain because they felt he was a man of honor—but as the campaign wore on he became opportunistic and less dignified. What they cited as the biggest reason of why McCain was out for them was his selection of Sarah Palin. They did this, I kid you not, on the grounds of her inexperience! So to recap…The inexperience of a VP candidate turned them off enough that they instead chose to support, for the actual presidency, a man who had served less than four years in the Senate.

A great way to sum up the whole disingenuous circus is that while selecting McCain in the primary they said, “none can offer the tested leadership, in matters foreign and domestic, of Sen. John McCain of Arizona. McCain is most ready to lead America in a complex and dangerous world and to rebuild trust at home and abroad by inspiring confidence in his leadership.” Contrast that with this insight as to why Hilary Clinton was a wiser choice than Obama, “When Obama speaks before a crowd he can be more inspirational than Clinton. Yet, with his relative inexperience, it’s hard to feel as confident he could accomplish the daunting agenda that lies ahead.”…You have to give them credit there–that was some impressive foresight.

Conclusion

Former Des Moines Register opinion editor Richard Doak, who authored the 2004 Edwards endorsement, summed it up best in a later interview. Sharing his thoughts on the process he said, “The primary purpose of editorials are to stimulate discussion in the community… and it’s a vehicle through which the newspaper expresses its values.”

Trust me Richard, Iowa Republicans are plenty aware of the Des Moines Register’s “values”. Perhaps if they used any manner of consistency in the endorsement process, beyond of course the consistency of their Liberalism, maybe more Iowans would “value” the paper enough to start buying it again.


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