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RPI Central Committee Campaign Involvement Follow Up

RPI Central Committee Campaign Involvement Follow Up

This past weekend, RPI Co-chair Jim Kurtenbach told members of the Republican Party of Iowa Central Committee who are serving as leaders of Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul’s campaigns that they need to decide who they were going to represent at the Iowa Straw Poll in August: the Republican Party of Iowa or the candidates they were openly working for.

That may cause a bit of a quandary for the four, but they are evidently resolute in maintaining their positions with feet firmly planted in both roles.  But it makes sense that one would have to make this decision, since they really can’t act out one role at the event without seeming half hearted at the other.

While the Iowa Straw Poll is an important event for Iowa Republicans, for the candidates who are looking to come out in at least the top three spots in the poll, and for many across the country who see it as the first real test of the candidate field, it’s not the whole point in this issue, but is part of it.  The integrity and importance of that event can be called into question if people get the idea that the people running it are stacking the deck in favor of their candidate.

As can the Iowa Caucus itself.  Nothing can likely destroy the importance of our first-in-the-nation status as questions about the integrity of the process.

Last week, we discussed the situation of the four members of the Republican Party of Iowa Central Committee.  Recapping, out of these four members, one is currently serving on Michelle Bachmann’s campaign, and the other three are working on the Ron Paul campaign.  All of them are in some type of leadership position on their respective campaigns.

And none of them considers this a conflict of interest.

Evidently, some of them even consider it inappropriate for party leadership to sit on the sidelines during primary and caucus season.

At this past weekend’s meeting, the committee worked on plans for the Iowa Straw Poll.  There had been talk that the committee might address the question of the involvement of committee members on presidential campaigns prior to the caucus.  The meeting apparently ran long enough that the committee did not have time to properly address the question.

But before they wound up their meeting, one of the committee members (not one of the four) brought the issue up.  The group was not keen on extending the meeting since there was a physical walk-through of the event facility scheduled shortly after this.  Another member of the committee pressed the issue and the group agreed to hold another meeting on June 1st (a 10 day notification lead time is required) to discuss the matter by phone.

In talking with members of the committee, it is extremely important that Republicans contact the members of the committee that represent their district.  I’ve provided the names, districts and contact information for each of the committee members below so that you can provide input to your committee person.

To Identify Your District

Here’s Who To Contact

Statewide Party Leaders >>>>

(Email) Matt Strawn (Chairman)
(Email) Jim Kurtenbach (Co-chairman)
(Email) Kim Lehman (National Committeewoman)
(Email) Steve Scheffler (National Committeeman)
First District
If your Congressman is: Bruce Brayley
If you live in one of the following counties:
Butler, Bremer, Fayette, Clayton, Black Hawk, Buchanan, Delaware, Dubuque, Jones, Jackson, Clinton, Scott
(Email) Jeremiah Johnson (Dubuque)
(Email) John Ortega (Bettendorf )
(Email) Chelle Adkins (Cedar Falls)

Second District
If your Congressman is: Dave Loebsack
If you live in one of the following counties:
Linn, Johnson, Cedar, Muscatine, Washington, Louisa, Des Moines, Lee, Henry, Jefferson, Van Buren, Davis, Wapello, Appanoose, Wayne

(Email) David Chung (Ceder Rapids)
(Email) Emily Lofgren (Muscatine)
(Email) Trudy Caviness (Ottumwa)
Third District
If your Congressman is: Leonard Boswell
If you live in one of the following counties:
Grundy, Tama, Benton, Iowa, Poweshiek, Jasper, Polk, Marion, Mahaska, Keokuk, Lucas, Monroe
(Email) Gopal Krishna (West Des Moines)
(Email) David Fischer (Altoona) (On Paul’s Campaign)
(Email) Wes Enos (Des Moines) (On Bachmann’s Campaign)
Fourth District
If your Congressman is: Tom Latham
If you live in one of the following counties:
Emmet, Palo Alto, Kossuth, Winnebago, Hancock, Worth, Cerro Gordo, Mitchell, Floyd, Howard, Chickasaw, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Pocahontas, Humboldt, Wright, Franklin, Calhoun, Webster, Hamilton, Hardin, Greene, Boone, Story, Marshall, Dallas, Madison, Warren
(Email) A.J. Spiker (Ames) (On Paul’s Campaign)
(Email) Drew Ivers (Webster City) (On Paul’s Campaign)
(Email) Bill Schickel (Mason City)
Fifth District
If your Congressman is: Steve King
If you live in one of the following counties:
Lyon, Osceola, Dickenson, Sioux, O’Brien, Clay, Plymouth, Cherokee, Buena Vista, Woodbury, Ida, Sac, Monona, Crawford, Carroll, Harrison, Shelby, Audubon, Guthrie, Pottawattamie, Cass, Adair, Mills, Montgomery, Adams, Union, Clarke, Fremont, Page, Taylor, Ringgold, Decatur
(Email) Tim Moran (Council Bluffs)
(Email) Craig Williams (Manning)
(Email) Monte Shaw (Panora)
The Power of Personality: Cain Comes To Town

The Power of Personality: Cain Comes To Town

The story of Presidential candidate Herman Cain begins and ends with personality. That is not to say that the middle doesn’t contain a large amount of substance, because it does, but his emotive presence in a sea of dry politicians refuses to be overlooked. He, and his presence, were on hand to address a group of about eighty people Monday at The Smokey Row Coffee Shop in Des Moines.

As he gave a brief opening statement and took questions from the crowd one could quickly come to the conclusion that his personality, and not his impressive business experience, may be his biggest weapon moving forward. The current world of Presidential politics is one in which the media can conjure up a negative narrative on a candidate faster than a State Fair artist can draw you a self-portrait. When it comes to Herman Cain, this will not be so easy.

His personality is a rare mixture. I would call it one part warmth, one part energy, and two parts forcefulness. Though we won’t find out unless he raises his profile, if the media is able to demonize this man…then nobody is safe.

However inescapable it was, this campaign stop was about much more than his personal traits. He took about twenty questions from the group, running the gamut from Pakistan to pre-school.

Ripping into the Obama administration was consistent throughout. He addressed spending most adamantly, calling for an across the board cut of 10% from each Federal department, a capital gains tax of 0%, a payroll tax holiday, and implementation of the Fair Tax. He broached the subject of Social Security reform by re-stating his position of following the Chilean model by creating an optional system that is “not privatized, but personalized.”

He all but announced he is running, joking he couldn’t say it officially until his announcement on May 21st. This being the case, we here at The Conservative Reader will have an in-depth look at his background and positions in the coming days. His personal story in many ways is an inspirational one, while his platform is a unique blend of policy positions. He will no doubt win over some of you, intrigue some of you, and frustrate the rest.

For the time being though it is safe to say his position in the race is more solid than one might think. Recently he got glowing reviews of his first debate performance, and this week the good news kept on coming. The last 72 hours has seen the exit of two candidates whose supporters could easily gravitate towards Cain, but for far different reasons.

Though Donald Trump’s candidacy was hardly serious, his high poll numbers were not all name recognition. A percentage of them represented a group searching for either a fighter or a business approach to government. Enter Herman Cain.

Most beneficial to Cain though is the disappearance from the scene of Mike Huckabee. Of any of the figures on the National landscape it is Huckabee that Mr. Cain most resembles (yes they are both former preachers too). The scores of voters, especially in Iowa, who found themselves drawn to Huckabee’s warm affability will find it hard not to be drawn in by Herman Cain and his most powerful weapon…his personality.

Capturing a significant number of these “released delegates” would afford him the ability to stay viable for the next few months. If he indeed is able to stick around he will be required to provide more specific details than currently offered by his 17 page document “The People’s Platform.” Meeting this challenge, and seeming Presidential while doing it, could punch his ticket to the Finals.

Though a lot has to go right, a path for him to enter the upper echelon of contenders is starting to become visible. At this stage in the game, a realistic chance is all an upstart candidate can ask for. If he is able to connect with the masses as well as he did with the folks at this event on Monday, you may not want to bet against him.

Iowa’s First Night With Newt As Candidate

Iowa’s First Night With Newt As Candidate

Monday night I got to see essentially the same man I saw a year ago at the 2010 Polk County Republican Spring Banquet.  This is a guy who has spent the past 12 years of his life dedicated to working with smart people to come up with solutions to America’s problems, and who comes across as thoughtful, smart (make that brilliant), and ready to work.

I say “the same”, because even a year ago, Newt Gingrich already seemed like a man bent on the idea that we can fix the American healthcare system without creating a yet another new bureaucracy incapable of bending to the people’s will.  A year ago he was pressing substantive health care reform ideas that acknowledged the deepest problems the Federal government has with running programs like Medicare… the government is just incapable of managing the fraud and abuse that have become one of the largest tax-payer boon doggles of all time.

I say “the same”, because a year ago Newt came to Des Moines with not only an air of confidence in himself that comes from decades of experience in the public eye, but a sense of purpose in his own life beyond giving a speech to a room full of Republican activists.  He seemed a man already on a mission, perhaps already trying to find ways to do the job of president without the title.  Some would call him a “statesman”.

But let’s say he was also a different man.

On Monday, the former House Speaker seemed to have eschewed the grim demeanor he carried in 2010.  It was almost as if making the decision to run for President had taken a weight off of his shoulders instead of putting it on.  He answered questions from the press and from a very receptive audience of about 200 with ease.  He handled the big question of the day, regarding his comments on Sunday on Meet the Press, (where he confounded conservative Republicans by apparently criticizing Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan as “too big a jump” to the right), with a good explanation of his comments.  For those of you who are interested, he essentially stated he had not communicated his thoughts well and was concerned about making dramatic changes to a program that impacts every single person in America.  His emphasis seemed to be on caution and taking more of a phased approach to any changes in Medicare.  Frankly, the transcript from Sunday’s program seems to say about the same thing, so I’m struggling with why people are upset about his comments.

Perhaps if people took the time to read the transcript instead of the headlines. Just sayin’.

With the last in mind, I will say, “the same”, because he does and may for some time, struggle slightly with how he communicates a message that may have significant research, analysis, and a team of high-valued brain-power behind it, in a way that can be understood by folks who have not had time to walk through the thought-process with him.  He seems sometimes to suffer from a mild form of “Keyesitis” (for those of you who recall the enigmatic and hyper intelligent former US Ambassador and former Presidential Candidate Alan Keyes), or a predilection to speaking exactly what’s on his mind, even if the listener is unable to grasp the meaning easily.  More simply put, he can sometimes be too smart for his own good.  I don’t think he lacks the ability to explain himself, but in an age of entertainment, technology, and the 15 second sound bite, it is substantially more difficult to get these ideas across when the attention span of your listener is so severely limited, and the assumption that everything one needs to hear can be boiled down to a dozen words.

I suspect that as his campaign proceeds, he will work with his staff to formulate a message that can be more easily understood.  His biggest risk may be answering questions for which he has not prepared a clear and simple answer, unless he can get to where he can regularly think and explain himself candidly at the level of a high school student or college undergraduate.

It was good to see Newt again, and I’m looking forward to seeing other candidates as the lead up the Iowa Caucus continues!

More comments on Newt’s Des Moines event can be found at Kathie Obradovich’s blog.

Sometimes You Roll The Dice…

Sometimes You Roll The Dice…

The Republican Party of Iowa (RPI) can be forgiven for taking a gamble on a big name casino owner like Donald Trump for their spring fundraiser… if you didn’t know, the star of The Apprentice, and one-time potential candidate for President, is the advertised main event for The Lincoln Dinner on June 10.  Now, with the Donald’s decision to put the breaks on any plans to run for President, the plans for June 10 are mired up a bit.

According to Casey Mills, spokesman for RPI, Trump is “reassessing” his plans to appear in Iowa.

You’d think that Matt Strawn would be reassessing the situation as well, no?  How much sense does it make to keep a candidate on the schedule who garnered a large amount of initial, albeit emotional, support and then just dropped out?  Do Iowa Republicans want to spend their time listening to someone who has been all flash and no fire?  Are they coming to this event to hear the musings of one who couldn’t make it past the starting gate?  Or do they want to see someone they can vet and get behind in the Caucus?

I suspect that Donald has some good observations to make about our current business climate, and the dynamics that exist with countries like China and Brazil as the US tries to work its way out of the economic mess it’s in.  But it is hard to believe that someone who would only be in the race “half heartedly”, would truly have words of wisdom or advice to Iowans with regard to their task of looking through the resumes of those who remain.  At least not words of substance.

The good news is that our list of people to watch has dropped by two in a few days.  Hopefully we’ll be down to half a dozen by the time we get to the Iowa Straw Poll.

The bad news is that RPI needs to regroup and figure out what to do for the Lincoln Dinner.  Perhaps Ron Paul is available?

The Power of Personality: Cain Comes To Town

What The Heck Do Voters Want Anyways?: A Rare Defense of The American Politician

“They are all weasels.” “You can’t trust any of them so why should I care?” “All they care about is getting re-elected so what’s the point?”

For generations the biggest criticism of politics, and one that drives
millions of Americans to “tune out,” is that politicians say one thing then do
another.  This is the sentiment expressed by our friends who hate politics, and we all have them, when they say various forms of the quotes listed above. The sad truth is that even for those of us who love it, it’s a point that proves hard to argue.

If the problem was this simple I would say that the solution would be equally so, but there is more at play here. The surest and quickest way to remove political hypocrisy and gamesmanship from the landscape is to stop electing and re-electing career politicians. There are certainly potential downsides to electing less experienced political leaders, I won’t go into them here, but dishonesty and duplicity are not among them. By both nature and definition it stands to reason that politicians will play politics, and that you have a much better chance of getting principled leadership and conviction from those who are not. While far from groundbreaking this logic is undeniable and the beauty of it is that it would work equally well for both sides of the aisle…a true bi-partisan solution. So what’s the catch?

While this addresses the much complained about problem of political hypocrisy, it leaves untouched a problem that no one ever seems to talk about…voter hypocrisy. That’s right, it’s time to turn the lens on the American voter and call them out for being engaged in the same hypocrisy that they so readily detest. In doing so we will see that this group is subject to the same conflicting pressures encountered by our political class and that in some ways, even beyond continuing to elect legi-saurs, they are partially to blame for the unsatisfying results.

While a large number of Americans complain that politicians in general do not have the conviction to say what they’ll do and then do what they say, when an impasse on a piece of legislation is reached between the parties what do the people want then? Ah yes…compromise. Poll after poll tells us that a majority want the sides to work together and get something done. After all that’s why we send them to Washington right? When the politicians don’t, a plurality of people decry this terrible gridlock and say it proves that Washington is broken.

These utterly conflicting desires create a picture harder to decipher than a kindergarten finger painting. Beyond illogical, this could be a case study for a class aimed at teaching how to construct a circle of confusion. Here would be the lesson plan; first claim that politicians are dishonest weasels because they toss aside principle by saying one thing and doing another. Then when, precisely by staying principled, they encounter resistance from the other side, then tell them that they should discard their principles in favor of a compromise in order to get something done. This is voter hypocrisy. Though they both sound nice when considered separately, you simply can’t champion conviction while calling for compromise. You have to pick one or the other.

I for one, and likely you since you are reading this, decided long ago that compromise is seldom the best choice and is even less often a righteous goal. While it may work in deciding where to go for dinner or what movie to see, the middle ground of diametrically opposed political philosophies is an unlikely place to find a sound solution. All ideas are not equal. More often than not a specific problem has one solution that is superior to all others. If you and a friend get lost while hiking in the woods and you think the way back to the car is North and they think its South, you don’t “compromise” and start walking East! A political compromise that consists of a mixture of a right and wrong approach is a different scenario, but yields the same result—you heading in the wrong direction.

There is no doubt that in a two party system like ours compromise is going to be a part of nearly every outcome. What is so confounding is how this can be so widely viewed as a desirable conclusion, and my explanation for this is admittedly cynical. While it is unavoidable, the point is that for those who take the time to learn and analyze the tenets of the two ideologies and the facts surrounding each debate, this compromise is most certainly a necessary evil. That so many Americans apparently want conviction and compromise simultaneously reflects the long known and discouraging reality that they are neither very informed on, nor engaged in, the political issues we face. Simply put, if you have an informed, developed, and therefore strong opinion on something you do not encourage compromise, you begrudgingly accept it.

These conflicting political pressures create a confusing environment for our elected officials to navigate in, and in this sense I empathize with them. If the criticism being hurled at politicians involves lack of conviction, it is usually deserved and I am largely on board. When it comes to hammering them for not compromising and blaming them for gridlock, nothing could be more ridiculous.

Though rarely defended, calling politicians dishonest weasels for not showing conviction and then slamming them for “not getting things done” when they do stand on principle is wholly unfair. Worse yet it demonstrates a shallow and hypocritical position. It is not too often that the script is flipped on the American voter and instead of giving criticism they are getting it, but you have to call them how you see them. What one sees in this case is that the politicians are not the only ones sending mixed messages.

The Power of Personality: Cain Comes To Town

Ron Paul Implies Formation of Histories Shortest Expedition

On Tuesday afternoon the Ron Paul Exploratory Committee officially revved its engine for the first time in Iowa by opening a campaign office in Ankeny. The office is the first one in the Nation that the Congressmen has opened in his current test drive for a White House run. Wasting no time, the Ron-voy rolled into town so the candidate could personally christen the property, introduce his Iowa exploratory staff, and take part in a brief Q and A session with the media.

Exploratory Committee Chairman Drew Ivers opened by highlighting the unique characteristics of Ron Paul’s Congressional background and summarizing his small government message. Among the selling points he covered is that, in twenty years in the House, Mr. Paul has never voted for a tax increase, an unbalanced budget, or to give the Executive branch more power. To go along with this voting record he has never taken a tax payer funded junket and has long refused Congressional benefits.

As far as the exploratory staff introductions, four of the five were on hand and introduced. They are Executive Director Steve Bierfeldt and Regional Directors Ryan Flowers, Ani DeGroot, Rachel Karnia, and Rocco Moffa. In keeping with the demographic of his most ardent supporters, all were young. Mr. Bierfeltd let it be known that the team will have a presence in all 99 Iowa counties as they try to gauge the level of support their candidate currently has with Iowa voters.

Unquestionably the biggest news to come out of the gathering was Mr. Paul’s prediction that his decision to run or not will be made within a week. You don’t have to have a John Nash-like “Beautiful Mind” to calculate what this means…The decision has been made. Unless he hired a staff, held an event to announce them, and signed a 10 day lease for his office, this time table confirms the obvious and makes his deciding to run a near certainty (a decision that likely became certain after last Thursday’s post-debate million dollar online fundraiser).

In his opening statement and subsequent answers, it is clear that Paul is banking on the high level of enthusiasm that he and his message have encountered lately, and that the quality (i.e. enthusiasm) of his supporters will eventually lead to quantity. His up-beat and energized demeanor on this scorching May afternoon surely suggested that this enthusiasm has already worn off on him.

Mr. Paul is keenly aware that the current condition of the economy and the plummeting public support of our current foreign engagements will provide his unique and decades-long message with a broader and more receptive audience than it had in 2008. While the ground is indeed fertile, just how many of these people that he and his team are able to reach and seal the deal with remains to be seen. What no longer remains to be seen, and what was on full display Tuesday in Ankeny, is how long the “exploring” in Iowa will last. It will be over almost as soon as it got started.

The Ron-voy is in full throttle and the finish line for him and his pit-crew is not in Iowa, it’s in Washington D.C.

The Power of Personality: Cain Comes To Town

The Shot Sent Around The Internet

Newt Gingrich

If you think that Republicans aren’t ready to engage with the newest generation of voters in 2012, you might want to think again.  One of the most experienced politicians in the ranks of Republicans, with 20 years in the US House of Representatives, 4 of which were spent as Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich announced his intent today to run for President of the United States on Facebook and Twitter.

At least, it’s being seen that way… actually, kind of an interesting announcement.


Be sure to watch Hannity this Wednesday at 9pm ET/8pm CT. I will be on to talk about my run for President of the United States @seanhannity


I have been humbled by all the encouragement you have given me to run. Thank you for your support. Be sure to watch Hannity this Wednesday at 9pm ET/8pm CT. I will be on to talk about my run for President of the United States.

“… as I talk about my run …” seems like a fairly passive statement for a man like Newt.  While the news wires are treating this as a formal announcement, I think I’ll treat it as an “in case you weren’t paying attention, I’m ready to run” kind of announcement.  I’m expecting something more “formal” on Wednesday.

So, certainly watch Hannity.

But more importantly, he is expected to be in Des Moines on Monday, May 16, although a detailed schedule is not available yet.  When we know more, we’ll let you know.

For those of you looking to find out how to support Newt, you can contact Will Rogers at [email protected], or call him at 515-669-1648.

Photo courtesy Andrew F. Kazmierski /

The Power of Personality: Cain Comes To Town

The Romney Predicament

If nothing else Mitt Romney is a man of firsts.  Four years ago when he ran for President he became the first Mormon to make a serious run at the White House.  His recent re-entry into the field for this go around has produced another, and far more unlikely one.  For the first time in history we have a candidate who is simultaneously the front runner and a long shot.  While his prior bid found voters faced with an assortment of unusual and unprecedented factors to consider, this run finds that list not only still in-tact, but even longer.

A look at his chances reveals a lot to like, but also a series of tough spots created for both the candidate and voters.  In the following we will weigh each against the other, not so much as a comparison of pros and cons but more as a look at advantages verses disadvantages.  This distinction is important because classifying in terms of pros and cons makes the presumption that the realities surrounding a candidate are good or bad.  In some cases I would argue that such judgments are unsubstantiated, in others the opposite of conventional wisdom may be true, and in yet others certain considerations are neither, and frankly should not be a valid part of the debate.  That being said, let’s start by looking at what is certainly a strong list of his advantages.

First and foremost, he is a serious man and a realistic candidate.  He has a background of leadership in both the private economic sector and in government, a mixture that puts him in a nearly ideal position.  While his background outside of politics makes it hard to clearly paint him as a life-long politician and part of the current “Washington” problem, his tenor as Governor suggests that he would not be overwhelmed if he wins the job.  Another huge feather in his cap is that he can prove his skill-set and resume have transferred to success outside of business by pointing to his role in the Salt Lake City Olympics.  All in all he meets the major qualifications and like him or not, he certainly does not struggle to seem Presidential.

In terms of the other areas, he also has many advantages.  He is one of the most polished and well-rounded in the field, having a developed platform on the economic side and being well versed and credible on foreign policy issues.  His prior candidacy showed his personal closet to be skeleton free, proved that he is a more than able debater, and demonstrated that he would have no trouble raising or, as the case may be, providing money.

His final two advantages are of note but for opposite reasons.  The first is overplayed and is his business success and experience.  This no doubt will be seen as a major positive, especially since so many Republicans feel down to their cores that government needs to be run as a business and not a bottomless social experiment.  For Independents, Conservatives, and Libertarians alike, a business approach to government represents a realistic way out of our current financial disaster.  While I agree, and unquestionably this will be his best selling point, my personal opinion is that his past business acumen will have little to do with potential future success or failure in this area. 

Though it sounds good, there is not a shred of evidence to suggest that making it big in business translates to overseeing a thriving economy as President, mostly because it rarely has had a chance to be proven.  A look back at history, meaning back to George Washington, finds only one former President  ever has had a prior occupation listed as “businessman,” and only one other that could make a case to join him…and they are both named Bush.  Though probably surprising, Bush the elder stands alone as a former businessman and his son, founder/CEO of Bush Exploration and general partner in The Texas Rangers, is the only President to have a master’s degree in business.  The fact of the matter is that the economy had problems under each Bush while it flourished under Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, neither of whom ever had a sniff of the business world.

The last thing working in his favor is something I view as much underplayed—his wife.  Conventional wisdom says this barely rises above a non-factor, but my sense is that liking a person’s spouse and getting a good vibe from their marriage provides a deep, hard to define, and powerfully sub-concious level of comfort.  Now I’m not saying this can win it for a candidate, but I am saying that it can help lose it.  In proving this I would point to 2004 and the cold, aloof, and elitist public perception of Teresa Heinz-Kerry.  This perception made it hard to imagine her as a first lady, and I would argue is one of a handful of things that cost John Kerry a razor close election.

In this regard the Romneys have no such trouble.  They seem naturally happy together and she is a very impressive woman who you don’t have to squint too hard at to picture as a first lady.  Anyone doubting that a candidate’s marriage and spouse has some impact can either check out a “man on the street” segment to get a true sense of some of these voters, remind themselves of Newt Gingrich’s situation, or if these fail just take a quick glance at Donald Trump and his current wife.

Wow! With all that going for him how could he possibly be a long-shot?  Looking at the other side of the Romney ledger leaves one channeling their inner Yogi Berra by saying, “He is the perfect candidate…except for all his flaws.”  While this list is indeed shorter, it’s also heavier.  Included here is his much talked about implementation of state-run, mandated health insurance in Massachusetts, a clumsy reversal on abortion (is there any other kind?), and the fact that he is a Mormon.

These particular hang-ups could not be any more damaging considering how high profile an issue health care will be and that he likely has to place relatively well in Iowa.  The devastation comes not only from their existence but from how he has chosen to address them, and how they all converge to create an ominous cloud of skepticism.   As much as Romney Care and abortion work against him they have been made worse by him making parsed, nuanced arguments to try and explain them away.  His distinction regarding health care, that it was perfectly fine and Constitutional to address it on a state level, is technically accurate.  In spite of this it simply will not play and puts him in the same camp as another prominent Massachusetts politician.

Once again going back to the 2004 Presidential election, John Kerry was immensely damaged by saying in regards to war funding, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”  Much like Romney on health care Kerry’s statement actually had validity in the context in which he was saying it, but in neither case will that matter.  Romney’s attempt to talk his way out of a past “achievement” will puzzle some, turn off even more, and provide a generous portion of blood in the water for his primary opponents.  Being forced to repeat his equivocations in every debate will continually leave him victim to a saying usually applied to more serious political misdeeds—“The cover up is almost always worse than the crime.”

If even one of these disadvantages was not present I would be tempted to think that the others could be overcome.  As it stands though, the combination of Romney Care, his reversal on abortion, the fact that he does not share the same faith of the vast majority of his potential voters, and his insistent equivocations all congeal in one area to create a feeling, for most Republicans, that they simply can’t trust or rely on him.  Not exactly a formula for winning primaries, especially when at the moment so many Americans are starving for blunt honesty.

Complicating matters for Republicans is that “The Romney Predicament” is not his alone.  His problems have the potential to be equally damaging to the Party, as he may very well be the candidate with the best chance of beating President Obama.  If he is eventually able to win the nomination it will be because of a mixture of voter pragmatism and a very weak Republican field, likely more of the latter. 

As the process plays out don’t be surprised if he increasingly becomes more of a long-shot and less of a front runner.  As a general rule voters do not want to feel like they have to “settle” for a candidate, and for many that is exactly what they would be forced to do in supporting Mitt Romney.  In spite of his impressive past and its long list of advantages, his disadvantages are heavy, untimely, and loud.  The strikes against him are not only the 800 pound gorilla in the room, but one that instead of sitting there just happens to be throwing a temper tantrum.  While muting this beast and claiming victory is possible, it is more likely that this man of many firsts will ultimately find himself in second.

The Power of Personality: Cain Comes To Town

Finally! Osama bin Laden Dead!

On national television this evening, President Obama informed the public that bin Laden had been killed in a firefight with a small team of America forces who had attacked a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in an effort to capture the Al Queda leader.  There were no American casualties.

The President’s speech covered just about every aspect of the situation, and reflected on the history of bin Laden and his murderous mayhem on the world.  He also keyed in on an important fact: Al Queda has not been shut down.  There will likely be continued attacks along with targeted reprisals for today’s successful operation.

Although the details are still sketchy, it appears that the terror leader was killed earlier in the day, and presumably verification and notification of certain world leaders was necessary before notifying the public at large.

Although there will doubtless be days and weeks of analysis of bin Laden’s killing, the events leading up to it, the aftermath, the statement it makes to terrorists, the statement it makes to leaders like Gaddafi (who just lost his own son in a NATO attack that appears to have targeted him).  As the President said, it is important to remember that a large number of people in the military, intelligence, domestic security, foreign partners and our elected leaders have worked hard for the last 10 years to search out those responsible for 9/11 and to protect our interests, and they have done a magnificent job despite occasional problems.

The President deserves congratulations and appreciation for his role in continuing to lead our resources in apprehending bin Laden (dead or not).  Both he and President Bush have done well in working to bring Osama to justice.

So, let’s keep the partisan bickering to a minimum for just a day, can we?  This is a time to celebrate, even if there is more work to be done.  This is a landmark achievement for America at a time when some were ready to give up and throw in the towel.  It is immensely gratifying to see that our efforts have not been in vain.

Celebrate, and remember those who lost their lives in 2001, and who have given their lives since then in the effort to protect us all from the scourge of terror.

The Power of Personality: Cain Comes To Town


Harry ReidWith the long overdue federal budget negotiations continuing to, well — continue — the vitriol spewing out of every crevasse of Washington is stunning in both its scope and in the absolute levels of personal animus that is on display. Even more stunning than the differences of opinion are the even more spectacular distortions of both the facts and the pertinent arguments attached to elements of the debate. It is one thing to have a contrary set of opinions. It is yet another to deploy a confrontation strategy of “justifiable-deception” (what used to be called “lies”) into that debate. The proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood that was announced last week (for their use in providing abortions) brought out vast quantities of this type of pernicious and despicable political deception.

The emotionally driven hate-speech coming from the self-described and sole protectors of women (the liberal legion in Washington), came so fast and furious that one might have been concerned that someone might have gotten hurt in their stampede to the cameras and microphones. It was a scene reminiscent of the chaos of a rock concert or a soccer game where all of the adolescent fans have designs on the front row.

Of the entire list of distortions associated with the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the one most hideous is the characterization that conservatives are both anti-women, and anti-women’s rights.  These liberal “megaphones” should be ashamed of themselves for stooping to this level of civility and discourse. Actually, it is not discourse (and it is obviously not civil); it is just the spewage of unfiltered sewage. Here are some examples:

  1. Reid (D-NV) said Republicans had placed a “bull’s eye on women in America,” preventing them from getting “health services they need.”
  2. Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) said: “The real reason that the right-wing extremists in Congress orchestrated this outrageous government shutdown is to try and defund Planned Parenthood as part of their ideological assault on women’s health care.”
  3. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) explained that “This is a war on women. They’re trying to inject their politics and their religion into local family planning.” California liberals are a special lot, are they not? The level of hypocrisy captured in these two brief sentences is revolting to all people of intelligent thought. But we move on.

As the “viability of the fetus” argument has now been effectively discredited, both morally and technologically, the abortionist’s last redoubt is the rights-of-women argument. The absurdity of this version of the pro-abortion argument is that the issue has never been simply and singularly about the rights of women. Everyone, on all sides of this issue, is committed to the rights of women. The fact that the extremist (to use their word) liberals seem to deny that the issue is much broader than women’s rights is the reason their comments are so entirely and patently offensive. This is a much more expansive human rights issue.

The battle lines around the abortion issue are not found on the political map in an area marked “the rights of women.” The debate is rather a long-standing and well-defined issue that pits the interests and rights of women against the interests and rights of unborn children. We all wish this did not have to be so. But to say that one party in the debate favors the rights of women, and the other does not, is at least disingenuous and likely much worse. It is reflective of a lack of character that manifests itself in a willingness to sacrifice base levels of honesty and core human decency in pursuit of their already dubious goals.

The difference between those of us who support the lives of the unborn and the Reid’s, DeGette’s and Lee’s of the world has nothing whatsoever with differences of opinion opposite the rights of women. It has everything to do with the rights of children. For liberals to state the contrary, or to state only one element of the argument, is morally and intellectually reprehensible. For those who choose to support abortion as a simple function of the rights of women there exists a deep moral responsibility to pursue the issue on its merits…whatever those merits might be. Spewing unrepentant lies as a means of support for their argument is, very unfortunately, on the same moral plane as the abortionist’s morally asymmetrical argument itself.

We need look no further than this to see why Americans are so completely disgusted with the whole political process. Without honesty there can be no trust. Without trust, there is no opportunity for the democratic form of governance to continue.

Process check: If you read this and see it as polemic in favor of the rights of children, please read it again. It is an argument in support of honest political discourse. This article could have been written with the federal budget, health care, educational funding, judicial activism or food safety labeling as the backdrop.

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