Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 1, 2008

“A Complete Failure of Governance”

Since snow started falling in the second week of last month, southwestern, central, eastern, and southern China have been gripped by a massive storm. About 105 million people have been affected in 17 provinces. Some 2.5 million of them have been or will be evacuated. Around 30 million have lost electricity. A quarter of a million troops have been mobilized to shovel snow and provide emergency relief. Approximately 16 million livestock have been killed. The storm will continue through at least the second week of this month, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

The snow could not have come at a worse time. Tens of millions of workers are on the move, making their once-yearly trip home for Chinese New Year, which begins next week. Hundreds of thousands of desperate, weary, and angry travelers, most of whom depend on the rails, are now stranded. On Wednesday, Premier Wen Jiabao went to the Guangzhou train station to calm distraught passengers through a megaphone. About 217,000 travelers were stuck in that city, the capital of southern Guangdong province. Security around the nation has been tightened where crowds have gathered. The ruling Politburo met on Tuesday in emergency session.

The storm is, according to the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, “historically unprecedented.” The official People’s Daily calls it “the worst in 50 years.” Beijing can’t be blamed for the weather, but central government policies have severely aggravated the suffering. “What has appeared to be a natural disaster is, in essence, a massive failure of governance,” said Mao Shoulong of Renmin University. Attempts at central planning have turned an unusual weather pattern into a national disaster.

There are about a dozen wrongheaded policies that have aggravated the situation, but the most misguided of them are the central government’s price controls on energy, needed to power the trains to take people home. Beijing technocrats have been waging an unsuccessful campaign to slow accelerating inflation. As an integral part of that effort, the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning agency, has put a ceiling on electricity charges. The NDRC in the last few days has been insisting that its cap has not led to the decline in the generation of power that is aggravating the ongoing crisis, but its case is unconvincing. The trains won’t move unless there is electricity, and there is an electricity shortage due in large measure to overregulation of the economy. There is also a national shortage of coal, used to generate most of the country’s electricity, due to a result of a mix of central government measures.

China needs better weather, but more important it needs a more open economy. The forecasters say the snow will stop sometime this month. Unfortunately, that will be long before the country gets better economic planning.

Since snow started falling in the second week of last month, southwestern, central, eastern, and southern China have been gripped by a massive storm. About 105 million people have been affected in 17 provinces. Some 2.5 million of them have been or will be evacuated. Around 30 million have lost electricity. A quarter of a million troops have been mobilized to shovel snow and provide emergency relief. Approximately 16 million livestock have been killed. The storm will continue through at least the second week of this month, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

The snow could not have come at a worse time. Tens of millions of workers are on the move, making their once-yearly trip home for Chinese New Year, which begins next week. Hundreds of thousands of desperate, weary, and angry travelers, most of whom depend on the rails, are now stranded. On Wednesday, Premier Wen Jiabao went to the Guangzhou train station to calm distraught passengers through a megaphone. About 217,000 travelers were stuck in that city, the capital of southern Guangdong province. Security around the nation has been tightened where crowds have gathered. The ruling Politburo met on Tuesday in emergency session.

The storm is, according to the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, “historically unprecedented.” The official People’s Daily calls it “the worst in 50 years.” Beijing can’t be blamed for the weather, but central government policies have severely aggravated the suffering. “What has appeared to be a natural disaster is, in essence, a massive failure of governance,” said Mao Shoulong of Renmin University. Attempts at central planning have turned an unusual weather pattern into a national disaster.

There are about a dozen wrongheaded policies that have aggravated the situation, but the most misguided of them are the central government’s price controls on energy, needed to power the trains to take people home. Beijing technocrats have been waging an unsuccessful campaign to slow accelerating inflation. As an integral part of that effort, the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning agency, has put a ceiling on electricity charges. The NDRC in the last few days has been insisting that its cap has not led to the decline in the generation of power that is aggravating the ongoing crisis, but its case is unconvincing. The trains won’t move unless there is electricity, and there is an electricity shortage due in large measure to overregulation of the economy. There is also a national shortage of coal, used to generate most of the country’s electricity, due to a result of a mix of central government measures.

China needs better weather, but more important it needs a more open economy. The forecasters say the snow will stop sometime this month. Unfortunately, that will be long before the country gets better economic planning.

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Romney Better Hope Huckabee Stays In

The latest Fox poll showing John McCain at 48%, Mitt Romney at 20% and Mike Huckabee with 19% is interesting for more than just the confirmation of the frontrunner bounce McCain has received. If Huckabee were not in the race McCain would lead 62% to 29%. (Yes, 62%.) So much for the theory that Huckabee hurts Romney.

On the head-to-head match ups, McCain leads Hillary Clinton by one point and trails Barack Obama by one point. (Both, obviously, are a statistical tie.) Romney trails Clinton by 14 points and by Obama by 18 points. But Romney has Ann Coulter in his corner. (By the way, in the most delicate way possible, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said in response to my question whether Romney agreed with Coulter’s comments that conservatives should vote for Clinton if McCain were the nominee, “She has her opinion. Mitt Romney has a different opinion.”)

The latest Fox poll showing John McCain at 48%, Mitt Romney at 20% and Mike Huckabee with 19% is interesting for more than just the confirmation of the frontrunner bounce McCain has received. If Huckabee were not in the race McCain would lead 62% to 29%. (Yes, 62%.) So much for the theory that Huckabee hurts Romney.

On the head-to-head match ups, McCain leads Hillary Clinton by one point and trails Barack Obama by one point. (Both, obviously, are a statistical tie.) Romney trails Clinton by 14 points and by Obama by 18 points. But Romney has Ann Coulter in his corner. (By the way, in the most delicate way possible, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said in response to my question whether Romney agreed with Coulter’s comments that conservatives should vote for Clinton if McCain were the nominee, “She has her opinion. Mitt Romney has a different opinion.”)

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One Down…

An Al Qaeda big shot, Abu Laith al-Libi, has apparently been killed in Pakistan by a missile fired from an American Predator drone probably operated by the CIA. That’s good news, of course, but we shouldn’t get carried away. There are lots more bad guys where he was hiding, and neither the Pakistani nor the U.S. authorities have been willing to go after them—the former for complicated internal political reasons, the latter for fear of offending and embarrassing the government of Pakistan.

The administration’s working hypothesis has been that Pervez Musharraf will do our dirty work for us in the western tribal areas of Pakistan, and that allowing American forces to operate there unilaterally would only undermine his regime. That calculus should start to shift now that it is apparent that Musharraf has not done nearly as much as he promised to battle Al Qaeda and the Taliban and now that his own legitimacy with the Pakistani people is almost nonexistent anyway. We need to do what we can to fight back against the Islamist extremists who are consolidating their hold on the frontier regions, thus threatening both Pakistan and Afghanistan. That could involve taking some of the fetters off the CIA and the Special Operations Forces and letting them conduct more targeted hits.

But if we’ve learned anything in Iraq it is that killing or capturing terrorist big shots isn’t enough. Special operators had success taking down everyone from Saddam Hussein to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and none of it made much difference to the overall goal of pacifying Iraq. We only made real strides when large numbers of American troops were deployed to mount classic counterinsurgency operations, which means securing the people against insurgent attacks. There is scant prospect at the moment that American troops in large numbers will be deployed to conduct such operations in Pakistan. That is, in fact, almost inconceivable barring another 9/11-style attack emanating from that area. (Unfortunately such an atrocity itself is by no means inconceivable.)

In the interim, the U.S. is trying to do what it can to help the Pakistani armed forces and perhaps tribal forces to take on the extremists. Those efforts haven’t shown much success so far, but they are now one of the most critical fronts in the war on terror, and they need to be a top priority for the administration in its waning days in office.

An Al Qaeda big shot, Abu Laith al-Libi, has apparently been killed in Pakistan by a missile fired from an American Predator drone probably operated by the CIA. That’s good news, of course, but we shouldn’t get carried away. There are lots more bad guys where he was hiding, and neither the Pakistani nor the U.S. authorities have been willing to go after them—the former for complicated internal political reasons, the latter for fear of offending and embarrassing the government of Pakistan.

The administration’s working hypothesis has been that Pervez Musharraf will do our dirty work for us in the western tribal areas of Pakistan, and that allowing American forces to operate there unilaterally would only undermine his regime. That calculus should start to shift now that it is apparent that Musharraf has not done nearly as much as he promised to battle Al Qaeda and the Taliban and now that his own legitimacy with the Pakistani people is almost nonexistent anyway. We need to do what we can to fight back against the Islamist extremists who are consolidating their hold on the frontier regions, thus threatening both Pakistan and Afghanistan. That could involve taking some of the fetters off the CIA and the Special Operations Forces and letting them conduct more targeted hits.

But if we’ve learned anything in Iraq it is that killing or capturing terrorist big shots isn’t enough. Special operators had success taking down everyone from Saddam Hussein to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and none of it made much difference to the overall goal of pacifying Iraq. We only made real strides when large numbers of American troops were deployed to mount classic counterinsurgency operations, which means securing the people against insurgent attacks. There is scant prospect at the moment that American troops in large numbers will be deployed to conduct such operations in Pakistan. That is, in fact, almost inconceivable barring another 9/11-style attack emanating from that area. (Unfortunately such an atrocity itself is by no means inconceivable.)

In the interim, the U.S. is trying to do what it can to help the Pakistani armed forces and perhaps tribal forces to take on the extremists. Those efforts haven’t shown much success so far, but they are now one of the most critical fronts in the war on terror, and they need to be a top priority for the administration in its waning days in office.

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Paying Attention

According to the Associated Press

Remote-controlled explosives strapped to two mentally retarded women detonated in a coordinated attack on pet bazaars Friday, police and Iraqi officials said, killing at least 73 people in the deadliest day since the U.S. sent 30,000 extra troops to the capital this spring . . . Iraqi officials said the women apparently were mentally disabled and the explosives were detonated by remote control, indicating they may not having been willing attackers in what could be a new method by suspected Sunni insurgents to subvert stepped up security measures.

This episode reminds us of just how malevolent our enemy is. Their savagery is almost unfathomable. One wonders if this type of thing will continue to turn the Muslim world against al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which is exactly what is happening in the “Anbar Awakening” (the backlash against AQI has now spread beyond Anbar Province).

This attack also underscores what General Petraeus has repeatedly said: the challenges in Iraq remain formidable and we will need to maintain our presence there for some time to come. The gains we saw in 2007 were stunning – but we are still a long way from Iraq becoming a secure, unified nation. Fortunately the President has indicated that he will abide by the counsel of General Petraeus and not pull out our troops prematurely. As the Washington Post reported today:

President Bush asserted Thursday that he would not be pressured into making further troop cuts in Iraq beyond the five combat brigades already scheduled to come home by the middle of the summer. “We have come too far in this important theater, in this war on terror, not to make sure that we succeed,” Bush told a friendly audience at an event sponsored by a conservative think tank. “I will be making decisions based upon success in Iraq…. The comments were the latest indication from the administration that it may keep the number of troops in Iraq at roughly the same level they were before last year’s buildup of U.S. forces, possibly through the end of Bush’s presidency. Under existing plans, the levels are gradually falling about 5,000 troops a month, from roughly 160,000 to 130,000 by July — or approximately where they stood before Bush sent reinforcements to Iraq seeking to curtail spiraling sectarian violence. Last fall, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates suggested that troop levels could continue falling, reaching 100,000 by 2009. But U.S. commanders in Iraq have suggested they would like to see a pause to determine whether recent security gains have taken root, and in recent statements — such as his comments here — Bush has indicated that he looks favorably upon such an approach.

Because of the successes we’ve experienced in Iraq, the attention of the nation and the political class is wandering away from that traumatized land. But the stakes in that war could not be higher – and the consequences of a defeat to AQI would be staggering. Whatever the flaws of the GOP candidates, there is a huge chasm between their views on Iraq and the views of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. As my colleague Yuval Levin wrote earlier today about last night’s debate, “They are intent on snatching disaster from the jaws of a real chance at progress in Iraq, and they simply don’t care if we lose. Neither of them came anywhere near words like success, or victory. It’s not in the script.”

What a thoroughly irresponsible and, if they were to become president, what a terribly dangerous position for them to hold.

According to the Associated Press

Remote-controlled explosives strapped to two mentally retarded women detonated in a coordinated attack on pet bazaars Friday, police and Iraqi officials said, killing at least 73 people in the deadliest day since the U.S. sent 30,000 extra troops to the capital this spring . . . Iraqi officials said the women apparently were mentally disabled and the explosives were detonated by remote control, indicating they may not having been willing attackers in what could be a new method by suspected Sunni insurgents to subvert stepped up security measures.

This episode reminds us of just how malevolent our enemy is. Their savagery is almost unfathomable. One wonders if this type of thing will continue to turn the Muslim world against al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which is exactly what is happening in the “Anbar Awakening” (the backlash against AQI has now spread beyond Anbar Province).

This attack also underscores what General Petraeus has repeatedly said: the challenges in Iraq remain formidable and we will need to maintain our presence there for some time to come. The gains we saw in 2007 were stunning – but we are still a long way from Iraq becoming a secure, unified nation. Fortunately the President has indicated that he will abide by the counsel of General Petraeus and not pull out our troops prematurely. As the Washington Post reported today:

President Bush asserted Thursday that he would not be pressured into making further troop cuts in Iraq beyond the five combat brigades already scheduled to come home by the middle of the summer. “We have come too far in this important theater, in this war on terror, not to make sure that we succeed,” Bush told a friendly audience at an event sponsored by a conservative think tank. “I will be making decisions based upon success in Iraq…. The comments were the latest indication from the administration that it may keep the number of troops in Iraq at roughly the same level they were before last year’s buildup of U.S. forces, possibly through the end of Bush’s presidency. Under existing plans, the levels are gradually falling about 5,000 troops a month, from roughly 160,000 to 130,000 by July — or approximately where they stood before Bush sent reinforcements to Iraq seeking to curtail spiraling sectarian violence. Last fall, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates suggested that troop levels could continue falling, reaching 100,000 by 2009. But U.S. commanders in Iraq have suggested they would like to see a pause to determine whether recent security gains have taken root, and in recent statements — such as his comments here — Bush has indicated that he looks favorably upon such an approach.

Because of the successes we’ve experienced in Iraq, the attention of the nation and the political class is wandering away from that traumatized land. But the stakes in that war could not be higher – and the consequences of a defeat to AQI would be staggering. Whatever the flaws of the GOP candidates, there is a huge chasm between their views on Iraq and the views of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. As my colleague Yuval Levin wrote earlier today about last night’s debate, “They are intent on snatching disaster from the jaws of a real chance at progress in Iraq, and they simply don’t care if we lose. Neither of them came anywhere near words like success, or victory. It’s not in the script.”

What a thoroughly irresponsible and, if they were to become president, what a terribly dangerous position for them to hold.

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MoveOn Endorses Obama

MoveOn.org — the liberal group responsible for last year’s infamous “General Betrayus” campaign — has endorsed Barack Obama for president. Obama welcomed their support with open arms, issuing a statement which, in part, reads:

From their principled opposition to the Iraq war –- a war I also opposed from the start –- to their strong support for a number of progressive causes, MoveOn shows what Americans can achieve when we come together in a grassroots movement for change. I thank them for their support and look forward to working with their members in the weeks and months ahead.

It should come as no surprise that MoveOn — which actually had beginnings as a group mobilized to encourage Congress to censure rather than impeach Bill Clinton and “Move On” but which has since transmogrified into something else — would endorse Obama. He has now become the candidate of the Democratic Party’s left wing. MoveOn’s endorsement came after a vote by its members, who supported Obama over Hillary Clinton by a whopping 70% to 30%.

Amidst Obama’s effusive praise for MoveOn and its works, the Illinois Senator should explain whether or not he agrees with the organization that General Petraeus, currently winning the war in Iraq, has indeed “Betrayed” his country.

MoveOn.org — the liberal group responsible for last year’s infamous “General Betrayus” campaign — has endorsed Barack Obama for president. Obama welcomed their support with open arms, issuing a statement which, in part, reads:

From their principled opposition to the Iraq war –- a war I also opposed from the start –- to their strong support for a number of progressive causes, MoveOn shows what Americans can achieve when we come together in a grassroots movement for change. I thank them for their support and look forward to working with their members in the weeks and months ahead.

It should come as no surprise that MoveOn — which actually had beginnings as a group mobilized to encourage Congress to censure rather than impeach Bill Clinton and “Move On” but which has since transmogrified into something else — would endorse Obama. He has now become the candidate of the Democratic Party’s left wing. MoveOn’s endorsement came after a vote by its members, who supported Obama over Hillary Clinton by a whopping 70% to 30%.

Amidst Obama’s effusive praise for MoveOn and its works, the Illinois Senator should explain whether or not he agrees with the organization that General Petraeus, currently winning the war in Iraq, has indeed “Betrayed” his country.

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The Clinton Defense

In last night’s Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton addressed Barack Obama about her historical stance on giving driver’s licenses to illegals:

I just have to correct the record for one second, because, obviously, we do agree about the need to have comprehensive immigration reform, and if I recall, about a week after I said that I would try to support my governor, although I didn’t agree with it personally, you were asked the same question and could not answer it.

What other politician would simply claim hypocrisy in defense of a policy?

Why, her husband, of course. On November 28 of last year, Bill Clinton made the first of a long string of soundbyte gaffes that would haunt Hillary’s campaign. This was when he was in Iowa and blurted out that he “opposed Iraq from the beginning.” He was immediately and ubiquitously called out on it. According to the New York Times, here was his defense:

Advisers to Mr. Clinton said yesterday that he did oppose the war, but that it would have been inappropriate at the time for him, a former president, to oppose—in a direct, full-throated manner—the sitting president’s military decision.

This is a couple who wants credit for thinking things they’re too cowardly to act upon. One has to marvel at the anti-serendipitous force that brought the two of them together . . .

In last night’s Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton addressed Barack Obama about her historical stance on giving driver’s licenses to illegals:

I just have to correct the record for one second, because, obviously, we do agree about the need to have comprehensive immigration reform, and if I recall, about a week after I said that I would try to support my governor, although I didn’t agree with it personally, you were asked the same question and could not answer it.

What other politician would simply claim hypocrisy in defense of a policy?

Why, her husband, of course. On November 28 of last year, Bill Clinton made the first of a long string of soundbyte gaffes that would haunt Hillary’s campaign. This was when he was in Iowa and blurted out that he “opposed Iraq from the beginning.” He was immediately and ubiquitously called out on it. According to the New York Times, here was his defense:

Advisers to Mr. Clinton said yesterday that he did oppose the war, but that it would have been inappropriate at the time for him, a former president, to oppose—in a direct, full-throated manner—the sitting president’s military decision.

This is a couple who wants credit for thinking things they’re too cowardly to act upon. One has to marvel at the anti-serendipitous force that brought the two of them together . . .

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Is He Or Isn’t He?

The Robert Malley mystery deepens. Yesterday Marty Peretz wrote:

There are all kinds of spooky rumors that a man named Robert Malley is one of Obama’s advisers, specifically his Middle East adviser. His name comes up mysteriously and intrusively on the web, like the ads for Viagra. Malley, who has written several deceitful articles in The New York Review of Books, is a rabid hater of Israel. No question about it. But Malley is not and has never been a Middle East adviser to Barack Obama.

But also yesterday, confirming previous reports in the Washington Post and Newsweek, the Politico reported:

An Obama spokesman, Tommy Vietor, says, “Rob Malley has no day-to-day advisory role in the Obama campaign. He is among many people who has given his advice to the campaign. The actual day-to-day Middle East advisor is Dan Shapiro.”

Is it possible here that someone misled Marty Peretz about Malley’s involvement in the campaign? Or is Marty just being perhaps a bit too clever in saying that “Malley is not and has never been a Middle East adviser to Barack Obama”? (Emphasis added.)

The Robert Malley mystery deepens. Yesterday Marty Peretz wrote:

There are all kinds of spooky rumors that a man named Robert Malley is one of Obama’s advisers, specifically his Middle East adviser. His name comes up mysteriously and intrusively on the web, like the ads for Viagra. Malley, who has written several deceitful articles in The New York Review of Books, is a rabid hater of Israel. No question about it. But Malley is not and has never been a Middle East adviser to Barack Obama.

But also yesterday, confirming previous reports in the Washington Post and Newsweek, the Politico reported:

An Obama spokesman, Tommy Vietor, says, “Rob Malley has no day-to-day advisory role in the Obama campaign. He is among many people who has given his advice to the campaign. The actual day-to-day Middle East advisor is Dan Shapiro.”

Is it possible here that someone misled Marty Peretz about Malley’s involvement in the campaign? Or is Marty just being perhaps a bit too clever in saying that “Malley is not and has never been a Middle East adviser to Barack Obama”? (Emphasis added.)

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Remember (the) Maine?

Maine holds its caucus, which will award 21 delegates, over the weekend. According to this, McCain is likely to win. Well, as goes Maine . . . On a more serious note, it does show that once you are the “frontrunner” many of the smaller states (where no one visits or runs ads) get swept easily into your column.

Maine holds its caucus, which will award 21 delegates, over the weekend. According to this, McCain is likely to win. Well, as goes Maine . . . On a more serious note, it does show that once you are the “frontrunner” many of the smaller states (where no one visits or runs ads) get swept easily into your column.

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Re: The (Non)Conservatives Against McCain

Abe, I entirely agree with your comments and would only add, that as one astute commentator has already noted, real conservatives do not impugn the military honor of a war hero.

Abe, I entirely agree with your comments and would only add, that as one astute commentator has already noted, real conservatives do not impugn the military honor of a war hero.

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The (Non)Conservatives Against McCain

The rabid strain of anti-McCain sentiment among media conservatives is, in fact, a betrayal of one of the most important principles of conservatism itself: the willingness to work with the concrete facts of a situation. The great strength of a politically conservative mindset is that it’s predicated on seeing the world as it is. When Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, and Rush Limbaugh threaten to deny McCain their vote because he’s not an ideal conservative, they come off more like quixotic Ron Paul undergrads or deluded moveon.orgers than like the realists they pride themselves on being. If it’s McCain’s lack of a consistent political philosophy that truly bothers this lot, then they can’t possibly mean it when they say they prefer Hillary. We know that the only politics she practices, and the only philosophy she abides, is that of the ferociously personal. So, what the McCain-haters are really doing is protesting the sub-Reagan Republican.

Recently, Victor Davis Hanson wrote a much needed reminder about the real Ronald Reagan. Hanson cited Reagan’s tax hikes, governmental bloat, and amnesty for illegals. The point is not that Reagan betrayed conservatives, but that his conservatism was not the pristine ideology-in-action that many now remember.

It’s liberals who are supposed to view political and cultural matters as they are not—in idealized hues. (And some describe neoconservatives as seeing the world as it could be.) But conservatives are supposed to size up a predicament for what it is, and make a non-sentimental decision. Conservatives do a cost-benefit analysis; liberals are the ones who take the ball and go home after an argument on the playground. Yet there they go: Rush, Michelle, Hugh, and Ann kicking up the dirt as they pout their way off the field.

The rabid strain of anti-McCain sentiment among media conservatives is, in fact, a betrayal of one of the most important principles of conservatism itself: the willingness to work with the concrete facts of a situation. The great strength of a politically conservative mindset is that it’s predicated on seeing the world as it is. When Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, and Rush Limbaugh threaten to deny McCain their vote because he’s not an ideal conservative, they come off more like quixotic Ron Paul undergrads or deluded moveon.orgers than like the realists they pride themselves on being. If it’s McCain’s lack of a consistent political philosophy that truly bothers this lot, then they can’t possibly mean it when they say they prefer Hillary. We know that the only politics she practices, and the only philosophy she abides, is that of the ferociously personal. So, what the McCain-haters are really doing is protesting the sub-Reagan Republican.

Recently, Victor Davis Hanson wrote a much needed reminder about the real Ronald Reagan. Hanson cited Reagan’s tax hikes, governmental bloat, and amnesty for illegals. The point is not that Reagan betrayed conservatives, but that his conservatism was not the pristine ideology-in-action that many now remember.

It’s liberals who are supposed to view political and cultural matters as they are not—in idealized hues. (And some describe neoconservatives as seeing the world as it could be.) But conservatives are supposed to size up a predicament for what it is, and make a non-sentimental decision. Conservatives do a cost-benefit analysis; liberals are the ones who take the ball and go home after an argument on the playground. Yet there they go: Rush, Michelle, Hugh, and Ann kicking up the dirt as they pout their way off the field.

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Missing Fred Thompson

Now that he is out of the race, and not that anybody ever asked me, I will disclose that I was always a Fred Thompson guy. I liked his political positions, but most of all I liked the way he went about campaigning. Thompson was manly, smart, self-effacing, quick with a good line, and refused the embarrassing, self-promotional boy-bandism that, as his failure probably proved, is today a required affectation of presidential politics.

Andrew Ferguson has a remembrance of all of this in the Weekly Standard that is an absolutely lovely piece of journalism:

The traditional restraint of old-time presidential candidates wasn’t arrogance or sanctimoniousness, the twin accusations that wised-up politicos made against Thompson during the campaign. There was a philosophical component to it too: By not seeming overeager–no matter how eager they were–candidates paid tribute to the democratic idea that political power is best sought, taken on, and used reluctantly. It was also a matter of seemliness, and Thompson, alone among recent candidates, felt its pull. In his stump speech he often mentioned George Washington, once a staple of political rhetoric for his willingness to walk away from the power that was thrust upon him. Today Washington’s restraint seems nothing more than an archaism. And by extolling it Thompson sounded merely odd.

“If people really want in their president a super type-A personality,” Thompson said at that Iowa town hall meeting, “someone who has gotten up every morning and gone to bed every night thinking for years about how they could achieve the presidency of the United States, someone who could look you straight in the eye and say they enjoy every minute of campaigning–I ain’t that guy.”

That’s why so many of us liked him.

Now that he is out of the race, and not that anybody ever asked me, I will disclose that I was always a Fred Thompson guy. I liked his political positions, but most of all I liked the way he went about campaigning. Thompson was manly, smart, self-effacing, quick with a good line, and refused the embarrassing, self-promotional boy-bandism that, as his failure probably proved, is today a required affectation of presidential politics.

Andrew Ferguson has a remembrance of all of this in the Weekly Standard that is an absolutely lovely piece of journalism:

The traditional restraint of old-time presidential candidates wasn’t arrogance or sanctimoniousness, the twin accusations that wised-up politicos made against Thompson during the campaign. There was a philosophical component to it too: By not seeming overeager–no matter how eager they were–candidates paid tribute to the democratic idea that political power is best sought, taken on, and used reluctantly. It was also a matter of seemliness, and Thompson, alone among recent candidates, felt its pull. In his stump speech he often mentioned George Washington, once a staple of political rhetoric for his willingness to walk away from the power that was thrust upon him. Today Washington’s restraint seems nothing more than an archaism. And by extolling it Thompson sounded merely odd.

“If people really want in their president a super type-A personality,” Thompson said at that Iowa town hall meeting, “someone who has gotten up every morning and gone to bed every night thinking for years about how they could achieve the presidency of the United States, someone who could look you straight in the eye and say they enjoy every minute of campaigning–I ain’t that guy.”

That’s why so many of us liked him.

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Berkeley Bashes Marines

During last night’s Democratic presidential debate in Hollywood, Barack Obama tried to project some sympathy for members of the U.S. military and seemed somewhat offended by the idea that Democrats don’t welcome improvements in Iraq.

Well, he can kiss the Berkeley vote goodbye. On Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council approved a resolution that will “encourage all people to avoid all cooperation with the Marine Corps recruiting station, and applaud residents and organizations such as Code Pink, that may volunteer to impede, passively or actively, by nonviolent means, the work of any military recruiting office located in the City of Berkeley.”

Code Pink is the organization of day-glo hysterics who plan to take down the Bush administration and the U.S. Armed Forces. But for now they’re meter maids. The City Council’s resolution handed them the parking space in front of the Marine recruiting office to better enable the group to stand in the way of the work of the U.S. Marine Corps. (If the picture in the New York Times is an indication of their methodology, they plan to send fiftyish women to doodle on the asphalt.)

People have long talked about a disconnect between the civilian left and the military in this country. Impeding the work of Marines isn’t a disconnect, it’s conflict. But here’s the best part: the grown women of Code Pink, who are apparently so well off that they can spend their days in costumes drawing peace signs on the sidewalk, are obsessed with blocking the employment possibilities the Marine Corps provides for men and women who can’t afford to revisit kindergarten. Maybe somebody in last night’s Academy Awards crowd is hiring.

During last night’s Democratic presidential debate in Hollywood, Barack Obama tried to project some sympathy for members of the U.S. military and seemed somewhat offended by the idea that Democrats don’t welcome improvements in Iraq.

Well, he can kiss the Berkeley vote goodbye. On Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council approved a resolution that will “encourage all people to avoid all cooperation with the Marine Corps recruiting station, and applaud residents and organizations such as Code Pink, that may volunteer to impede, passively or actively, by nonviolent means, the work of any military recruiting office located in the City of Berkeley.”

Code Pink is the organization of day-glo hysterics who plan to take down the Bush administration and the U.S. Armed Forces. But for now they’re meter maids. The City Council’s resolution handed them the parking space in front of the Marine recruiting office to better enable the group to stand in the way of the work of the U.S. Marine Corps. (If the picture in the New York Times is an indication of their methodology, they plan to send fiftyish women to doodle on the asphalt.)

People have long talked about a disconnect between the civilian left and the military in this country. Impeding the work of Marines isn’t a disconnect, it’s conflict. But here’s the best part: the grown women of Code Pink, who are apparently so well off that they can spend their days in costumes drawing peace signs on the sidewalk, are obsessed with blocking the employment possibilities the Marine Corps provides for men and women who can’t afford to revisit kindergarten. Maybe somebody in last night’s Academy Awards crowd is hiring.

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Steve Toltz

Few terms make the professional book reviewer recoil like the term “first novel.” Am I to be subjected yet again to carefully measured, climate-controlled, Iowa Writers Workshopped prose in which not a word is wasted, everything is either vaguely sadness-washed or delicately precious, we build to a quietly devastating moment of clarity, and I am extravagantly bored?

A new first novel out of Australia being published by the fledgling imprint of Spiegel & Grau, though, made my soul tingle. It’s A Fraction of the Whole, by Steve Toltz, a busting bronco ride of philosophical jokes, outrageous crime sprees, unlikely schemes, and comic set pieces. At 530 pages, it’s a wrist-buster, but also a furiously entertaining adventure.

The plot is very much beside the point, but the story begins in prison, where Jasper Dean is being held as a riot percolates. Teasingly, Jasper begins to sketch out why he’s there (his cynical outcast father, Martin Dean, has disappeared, possibly because Jasper killed him) and then backs into a long, long backstory of who made Martin: his criminal mastermind brother, Jasper’s uncle Terry Dean. Terry became a national legend because of his viciously idealistic campaign to clean up sports by assassinating anyone caught cheating–everyone from steroid freaks to horse-race fixers. Martin chose an opposite path, becoming a national pariah by trying to help everyone in a series of starry-eyed schemes that backfire and sow chaos. At one point Martin gets an observatory built on a hill outside of town, uplifting everyone for a while, but its powerful telescope winds up disused and pointing back down into town, starting a fire that burns it down (and kills Terry).

The point to Toltz’s sweeping, madcap, continent-hopping tale of the human need for love, immortality and dirty jokes is his hilarious side riffing on, for instance, a master criminal’s definitive how-to book on crime (containing such chapters as “Motiveless Crimes–Why?’ and “Crime and Fashion: Balaclavas Are Always In”), a nutty love affair in Paris (“She had a lot of hair. It went down her back. It went into my mind. It covered her shoulders & my thoughts”), the downside of child-rearing (“To have a child is to be impaled daily on the spike of responsibility”) and vindictive females. You know you’re in trouble when you not only catch your girlfriend crying, but holding a jar under her face as she does so and confessing, in a reference to the guy she dated before you, “I’m collecting my tears because I’m going to make Brian drink them.”

Few terms make the professional book reviewer recoil like the term “first novel.” Am I to be subjected yet again to carefully measured, climate-controlled, Iowa Writers Workshopped prose in which not a word is wasted, everything is either vaguely sadness-washed or delicately precious, we build to a quietly devastating moment of clarity, and I am extravagantly bored?

A new first novel out of Australia being published by the fledgling imprint of Spiegel & Grau, though, made my soul tingle. It’s A Fraction of the Whole, by Steve Toltz, a busting bronco ride of philosophical jokes, outrageous crime sprees, unlikely schemes, and comic set pieces. At 530 pages, it’s a wrist-buster, but also a furiously entertaining adventure.

The plot is very much beside the point, but the story begins in prison, where Jasper Dean is being held as a riot percolates. Teasingly, Jasper begins to sketch out why he’s there (his cynical outcast father, Martin Dean, has disappeared, possibly because Jasper killed him) and then backs into a long, long backstory of who made Martin: his criminal mastermind brother, Jasper’s uncle Terry Dean. Terry became a national legend because of his viciously idealistic campaign to clean up sports by assassinating anyone caught cheating–everyone from steroid freaks to horse-race fixers. Martin chose an opposite path, becoming a national pariah by trying to help everyone in a series of starry-eyed schemes that backfire and sow chaos. At one point Martin gets an observatory built on a hill outside of town, uplifting everyone for a while, but its powerful telescope winds up disused and pointing back down into town, starting a fire that burns it down (and kills Terry).

The point to Toltz’s sweeping, madcap, continent-hopping tale of the human need for love, immortality and dirty jokes is his hilarious side riffing on, for instance, a master criminal’s definitive how-to book on crime (containing such chapters as “Motiveless Crimes–Why?’ and “Crime and Fashion: Balaclavas Are Always In”), a nutty love affair in Paris (“She had a lot of hair. It went down her back. It went into my mind. It covered her shoulders & my thoughts”), the downside of child-rearing (“To have a child is to be impaled daily on the spike of responsibility”) and vindictive females. You know you’re in trouble when you not only catch your girlfriend crying, but holding a jar under her face as she does so and confessing, in a reference to the guy she dated before you, “I’m collecting my tears because I’m going to make Brian drink them.”

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Re: Romney’s Money

The breakdown on how much the presidential candidates spent on TV ads is stunning. Mitt Romney ran 34,281 ads costing $29M. John McCain ran 10,830 ads costing $8M. Mike Huckabee ran 5831 ads at a cost of $2.6M. What did it get them? McCain has 93 delegates (that is approximately $86,000 in ad expenditure per delegate), Romney has 59 delegates (a little more than $490,000 per delegate), and Huckabee has 40 delegates (just $65,000 per delegate).

Some commentators questioned McCain’s management skills when his campaign spent too much and ran aground last year, but he appears to have been the turnaround artist here, operating with extreme frugality and getting an excellent return on his investment (with a bank loan to assist him). He did not run an operation which was staffed to the hilt and sent out e-mails every time the candidate sneezed. There’s a lesson or two in there.

The breakdown on how much the presidential candidates spent on TV ads is stunning. Mitt Romney ran 34,281 ads costing $29M. John McCain ran 10,830 ads costing $8M. Mike Huckabee ran 5831 ads at a cost of $2.6M. What did it get them? McCain has 93 delegates (that is approximately $86,000 in ad expenditure per delegate), Romney has 59 delegates (a little more than $490,000 per delegate), and Huckabee has 40 delegates (just $65,000 per delegate).

Some commentators questioned McCain’s management skills when his campaign spent too much and ran aground last year, but he appears to have been the turnaround artist here, operating with extreme frugality and getting an excellent return on his investment (with a bank loan to assist him). He did not run an operation which was staffed to the hilt and sent out e-mails every time the candidate sneezed. There’s a lesson or two in there.

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Another Round Of Timetables

Here we go again. The McCain folks send around this from last night in which both Charles Krauthammer and Mort Kondracke agree that Romney was indeed talking about timetables for withdrawal of U.S. forces in his April 2007 Good Morning America interview. They point out that Romney argued that you did not want to make the timetables public because “otherwise the enemy would know you are leaving.” (McCain tried to explain this at the debate, but did not quite get his point across.) Judge for yourself. The McCain team also included clips from contemporary reporting by The Hill, Chicago Tribune and AP, as well as a juicy quote from Duncan Hunter criticizing Romney at the time for “recommending a secret timetable.” Their broader point: a number of conservative analysts have criticized Romney for leaving wiggle room for himself on the surge.

It might have been more helpful for McCain to get this out sooner to bolster his position in the debate. That said, it will take up another news cycle or two during the weekend before the election. It’s getting to be a long time since Romney had unobstructed time to talk about the economy.

Here we go again. The McCain folks send around this from last night in which both Charles Krauthammer and Mort Kondracke agree that Romney was indeed talking about timetables for withdrawal of U.S. forces in his April 2007 Good Morning America interview. They point out that Romney argued that you did not want to make the timetables public because “otherwise the enemy would know you are leaving.” (McCain tried to explain this at the debate, but did not quite get his point across.) Judge for yourself. The McCain team also included clips from contemporary reporting by The Hill, Chicago Tribune and AP, as well as a juicy quote from Duncan Hunter criticizing Romney at the time for “recommending a secret timetable.” Their broader point: a number of conservative analysts have criticized Romney for leaving wiggle room for himself on the surge.

It might have been more helpful for McCain to get this out sooner to bolster his position in the debate. That said, it will take up another news cycle or two during the weekend before the election. It’s getting to be a long time since Romney had unobstructed time to talk about the economy.

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A Domestic Policy Election

Last night’s debate showed both why it’s terribly important for a Republican to prevail this November, and why it will be terribly difficult.

It is important because Clinton and Obama seem absolutely intent on ignoring the reality of what is happening in Iraq, and following through on a ruinous script their party decided to adopt a year ago. (Maybe the writers’ strike is to blame). For a half hour, they spoke as though the past year simply had not happened, and when they were then asked specifically what they thought about the progress that had been made, they responded by ridiculing the efforts of Iraqis to make the most of the military progress achieved by the surge, and by sending a clear message to all involved that if the Democrats take over, they’ll just pack up and leave. Maybe they’ll take care of the “translators and truck drivers” who helped our forces, they said. Great. They are intent on snatching disaster from the jaws of a real chance at progress in Iraq, and they simply don’t care if we lose. Neither of them came anywhere near words like success, or victory. It’s not in the script.

But the debate also showed again why it won’t be easy for John McCain to make much of this, or to win in November. It increasingly looks as though, crucial as it surely is, Iraq simply will not be the central issue of the 2008 election. This is a mixed bag for both parties, of course—focusing on Iraq might help McCain since it plays to his strengths, but it would hurt him too, since the public is not where he is on the war. But either way, Iraq seems to be falling into the background as conditions improve, and this could well be a domestic policy election.

On domestic issues, McCain’s problem is not that his views are too far from the public’s. It’s that he simply doesn’t care about any of the issues on the table. In fact (as I argue in next week’s issue of National Review) McCain doesn’t actually seem to care about any political “issues” at all. He is moved by honor and country, and this has driven him to be passionately active on a few domestic fronts, but for different reasons than those that motivate just about every other politician. (A misunderstanding of this point has, I think, been behind much of the often excessive distress at McCain’s apparent ascendancy in some quarters of the right this week). And he has not found a way to understand, say, health care in terms of honor, honesty, or character. So even though his campaign has offered a very strong conservative proposal for health care reform, McCain seems incapable of talking about it as though it were even remotely significant.

Both of the Democrats, whatever you think of their particular proposals, can communicate a sense of the significance and urgency of this and the other issues that seem increasingly likely to dominate the general election. McCain’s challenge is not only to persuade conservatives he can carry their banner, but to persuade himself that the concerns and aspirations of the middle class family matter. Although he may well be the Republican with the best chance of winning in November, this won’t be an election that naturally plays to John McCain’s strengths.

Last night’s debate showed both why it’s terribly important for a Republican to prevail this November, and why it will be terribly difficult.

It is important because Clinton and Obama seem absolutely intent on ignoring the reality of what is happening in Iraq, and following through on a ruinous script their party decided to adopt a year ago. (Maybe the writers’ strike is to blame). For a half hour, they spoke as though the past year simply had not happened, and when they were then asked specifically what they thought about the progress that had been made, they responded by ridiculing the efforts of Iraqis to make the most of the military progress achieved by the surge, and by sending a clear message to all involved that if the Democrats take over, they’ll just pack up and leave. Maybe they’ll take care of the “translators and truck drivers” who helped our forces, they said. Great. They are intent on snatching disaster from the jaws of a real chance at progress in Iraq, and they simply don’t care if we lose. Neither of them came anywhere near words like success, or victory. It’s not in the script.

But the debate also showed again why it won’t be easy for John McCain to make much of this, or to win in November. It increasingly looks as though, crucial as it surely is, Iraq simply will not be the central issue of the 2008 election. This is a mixed bag for both parties, of course—focusing on Iraq might help McCain since it plays to his strengths, but it would hurt him too, since the public is not where he is on the war. But either way, Iraq seems to be falling into the background as conditions improve, and this could well be a domestic policy election.

On domestic issues, McCain’s problem is not that his views are too far from the public’s. It’s that he simply doesn’t care about any of the issues on the table. In fact (as I argue in next week’s issue of National Review) McCain doesn’t actually seem to care about any political “issues” at all. He is moved by honor and country, and this has driven him to be passionately active on a few domestic fronts, but for different reasons than those that motivate just about every other politician. (A misunderstanding of this point has, I think, been behind much of the often excessive distress at McCain’s apparent ascendancy in some quarters of the right this week). And he has not found a way to understand, say, health care in terms of honor, honesty, or character. So even though his campaign has offered a very strong conservative proposal for health care reform, McCain seems incapable of talking about it as though it were even remotely significant.

Both of the Democrats, whatever you think of their particular proposals, can communicate a sense of the significance and urgency of this and the other issues that seem increasingly likely to dominate the general election. McCain’s challenge is not only to persuade conservatives he can carry their banner, but to persuade himself that the concerns and aspirations of the middle class family matter. Although he may well be the Republican with the best chance of winning in November, this won’t be an election that naturally plays to John McCain’s strengths.

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Ehud Olmert, Company Man

John Podhoretz has noted here that Ehud Olmert managed–somehow–to survive the release of the Winograd Report, which details his grievous failures in the Lebanon war. John didn’t comment further: Olmert’s record speaks (miserably) for itself. But the excellent Yossi Klein Halevi, at TNR, condemns him full-throatedly:

Olmert, neither founder nor hero, is the first professional politician to serve as prime minister. Yet, in resisting calls for his resignation, he is insisting on being absolved of the standards for personal accountability in war to which other prime ministers were held. Golda Meir and her defense minister, Moshe Dayan, were forced from office by an outraged public because of failure in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, while Menachem Begin and his defense minister, Ariel Sharon, were compelled to resign because of failure in the first Lebanon War in 1982. Olmert, though, sees himself as immune from such archaic values as personal responsibility. Even before the release of the final version of the Winograd report, Olmert had announced that he wouldn’t resign no matter what the commission concluded.

Olmert’s fatal flaw, and the source of his failure in Lebanon, is arrogance. No Israeli leader ever decided to go to war faster than Olmert did–in a matter of hours. And no Israeli leader was worse prepared: Not only did Olmert have no security expertise, but neither did his defense minister. The one member of his cabinet with top military credentials–former IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz–was serving as transportation minister, and Olmert didn’t include him in his inner circle. Olmert failed to establish clear goals for Israel’s counter-attack or to inquire whether the IDF had alternative plans. Olmert’s policy was, in effect: Let’s go to war and see what happens.

You should read the whole thing.

John Podhoretz has noted here that Ehud Olmert managed–somehow–to survive the release of the Winograd Report, which details his grievous failures in the Lebanon war. John didn’t comment further: Olmert’s record speaks (miserably) for itself. But the excellent Yossi Klein Halevi, at TNR, condemns him full-throatedly:

Olmert, neither founder nor hero, is the first professional politician to serve as prime minister. Yet, in resisting calls for his resignation, he is insisting on being absolved of the standards for personal accountability in war to which other prime ministers were held. Golda Meir and her defense minister, Moshe Dayan, were forced from office by an outraged public because of failure in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, while Menachem Begin and his defense minister, Ariel Sharon, were compelled to resign because of failure in the first Lebanon War in 1982. Olmert, though, sees himself as immune from such archaic values as personal responsibility. Even before the release of the final version of the Winograd report, Olmert had announced that he wouldn’t resign no matter what the commission concluded.

Olmert’s fatal flaw, and the source of his failure in Lebanon, is arrogance. No Israeli leader ever decided to go to war faster than Olmert did–in a matter of hours. And no Israeli leader was worse prepared: Not only did Olmert have no security expertise, but neither did his defense minister. The one member of his cabinet with top military credentials–former IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz–was serving as transportation minister, and Olmert didn’t include him in his inner circle. Olmert failed to establish clear goals for Israel’s counter-attack or to inquire whether the IDF had alternative plans. Olmert’s policy was, in effect: Let’s go to war and see what happens.

You should read the whole thing.

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Coming Around To McCain

In this report, some of the biggest conservative critics of McCain seem to be making lemonade out of lemons (from their point of view). Americans For Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist says: “He has moved in the right direction strongly and forcefully on taxes.” Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, remarks “I have no residual issue with John McCain.” (He also tells McCain antagonist Rush Limbaugh that he “needs to get out of the studio more and talk to real people.”) David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union and a Mitt Romney backer, says he’s “resigned” to McCain winning (Gee, thanks for the vote of support, Romney must be saying.). He’s honest at least, noting  “There are people who don’t like the idea of a being off a campaign or being on the bad list if the guy gets into the White House.This is a town in which 90 percent of the people balance their access and income on the one hand versus their principles on the other.”

But, alas, not everyone has seen the light. Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert goes after McCain for the sin of being an “undependable vote”and for all of his anti-conservative heresies. RedState suggests the anti-McCain forces could use a better spokesman. What’s next? Trent Lott grumbling “I had to leave the Senate because of him–how’s a guy to keep a political favor with him hanging around?” (You can almost see the ads in November.)

Meanwhile, Romney does not give some fiscal conservatives reason to rally to his cause. The Wall Street Journal editors tear into Romney for his lack of convictions, declaring:

[W]e haven’t been able to discern from his campaign, or his record in Massachusetts, what his core principles are. Mr. Romney spent his life as a moderate Republican, and he governed the Bay State that way after his election in 2002. While running this year, however, he has reinvented himself as a conservative from radio talk-show casting, especially on immigration.

The Journal editors then excoriate him for his mandate-based healthcare plan, a frequent source of their ire toward him, and suggest this bodes poorly for his devotion to free-market principles and willingness to take on Democrats in Congress.

Given all this, it is not surprising that Romney, too, may be less than fully devoted (at least financially) to his own cause.

In this report, some of the biggest conservative critics of McCain seem to be making lemonade out of lemons (from their point of view). Americans For Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist says: “He has moved in the right direction strongly and forcefully on taxes.” Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, remarks “I have no residual issue with John McCain.” (He also tells McCain antagonist Rush Limbaugh that he “needs to get out of the studio more and talk to real people.”) David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union and a Mitt Romney backer, says he’s “resigned” to McCain winning (Gee, thanks for the vote of support, Romney must be saying.). He’s honest at least, noting  “There are people who don’t like the idea of a being off a campaign or being on the bad list if the guy gets into the White House.This is a town in which 90 percent of the people balance their access and income on the one hand versus their principles on the other.”

But, alas, not everyone has seen the light. Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert goes after McCain for the sin of being an “undependable vote”and for all of his anti-conservative heresies. RedState suggests the anti-McCain forces could use a better spokesman. What’s next? Trent Lott grumbling “I had to leave the Senate because of him–how’s a guy to keep a political favor with him hanging around?” (You can almost see the ads in November.)

Meanwhile, Romney does not give some fiscal conservatives reason to rally to his cause. The Wall Street Journal editors tear into Romney for his lack of convictions, declaring:

[W]e haven’t been able to discern from his campaign, or his record in Massachusetts, what his core principles are. Mr. Romney spent his life as a moderate Republican, and he governed the Bay State that way after his election in 2002. While running this year, however, he has reinvented himself as a conservative from radio talk-show casting, especially on immigration.

The Journal editors then excoriate him for his mandate-based healthcare plan, a frequent source of their ire toward him, and suggest this bodes poorly for his devotion to free-market principles and willingness to take on Democrats in Congress.

Given all this, it is not surprising that Romney, too, may be less than fully devoted (at least financially) to his own cause.

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Choose Your Kennedys

In response to Ted, Patrick and Caroline Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama on Monday, three of Robert’s children–Robert Jr., Kerry (formerly Andrew Cuomo’s wife) and Kathleen Kennedy Townshend–reiterated their support for Hillary Clinton in a Los Angeles Times op-ed on Wednesday. Can both sets of endorsements from this media-loving family just cancel each other out?

In response to Ted, Patrick and Caroline Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama on Monday, three of Robert’s children–Robert Jr., Kerry (formerly Andrew Cuomo’s wife) and Kathleen Kennedy Townshend–reiterated their support for Hillary Clinton in a Los Angeles Times op-ed on Wednesday. Can both sets of endorsements from this media-loving family just cancel each other out?

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Romney’s Money

The Romney team released its 4th Quarter FEC filing during the Democratic debate last night. During the debate, Barack Obama said he did not think Romney was getting a very good return on his investment. He appears to be right, which is probably why they released the filing during the most hotly anticipated debate of the year.

What did it say? Romney spent $18M of his own money in the 4th Quarter, a total of $35M for 2007. He ended the year with less money than McCain ($2.43M). In the 4th Quarter Romney took in $9M in donations, far less than Rudy’s $14.2M. In January, which is not included in the filing, Romney undoubtedly wrote himself a jumbo check to fund the huge ad buys for the month’s primary states where he was able to outspend his opponents, sometimes by margins of 10 to 1.

What does this all mean? If you spend enough of your own money you can buy many, many ads and stay in the presidential race, but not win many states.

The Romney team released its 4th Quarter FEC filing during the Democratic debate last night. During the debate, Barack Obama said he did not think Romney was getting a very good return on his investment. He appears to be right, which is probably why they released the filing during the most hotly anticipated debate of the year.

What did it say? Romney spent $18M of his own money in the 4th Quarter, a total of $35M for 2007. He ended the year with less money than McCain ($2.43M). In the 4th Quarter Romney took in $9M in donations, far less than Rudy’s $14.2M. In January, which is not included in the filing, Romney undoubtedly wrote himself a jumbo check to fund the huge ad buys for the month’s primary states where he was able to outspend his opponents, sometimes by margins of 10 to 1.

What does this all mean? If you spend enough of your own money you can buy many, many ads and stay in the presidential race, but not win many states.

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