Eating our own *UPDATED*

I caught a minute of Mike Gallagher today, and he was talking about the fact that Republicans are more critical of Republican candidates than Democrats are critical of Democratic candidates. It occurred to me that, at least in this election cycle, that may be because there are real, substantive differences between the Republican candidates. We’ve got Ron Paul, who is a pure libertarian and possible white supremacist; John McCain, who is strong on defense, but weak on free speech, and spineless to environmental extremists; Mitt Romney, who has positioned himself as a traditional conservative who is for strong borders, a strong national defense, pro-life, etc., with a sound grasp of economic issues; Mike Huckabee, who is loudly Christian, a social conservative, and a big government liberal; and Rudy Giuliani, who is a social liberal and a hawk. With the exception of Ron Paul, all have had leadership experience, but of a very different type: McCain was in the military; Romney ran businesses and the Massachusetts government; Huckabee governed Arkansas; and Giuliani ran huge criminal prosecutions and New York. So, just as there are differences in their approach to conservative politics (and all are more conservative than not), there are also significant differences in their practical experience. Republicans have a real choice, and real choice begets real debate.

It’s different with the Dems. For one thing, none of them have any managerial experience. They’ve all been Senators, which means working with a group of 99 other people. None have them has taken the lead in the Senate, so they can’t even point to leadership experience in those august chambers. John Edwards has a bit more private sector experience than the other two but I can tell you that even the most successful lawyer cannot be compared to a manager. Managing a case is not the same as manager a system — whether that system is a business or a government. Obama was an academic, which is the antithesis of management, and Hillary was, well, Hillary managed Bill, I guess. They’re all good at manipulating people, Edwards because he’s a trial lawyer, and Obama and Hillary because they’re Alinsky disciples, but that’s not leadership or management. So, they’re pretty much the same looked at from that point of view.

In terms of politics, they’re peas in a pod: they want out of Iraq, they deny that Islamists pose a threat to America, they like open borders, and they want more government involvement in everything (parenting, health care, education, managing people’s money, controlling businesses, etc), which means more taxes on people they decide are “rich.”

The fact that Edwards, Obama and Hillary are virtually indistinguishable on paper may explain why identity politics has become so important. It’s not just Hillary’s dirty politics and it’s not just that the “identity politics” chickens are coming home to roost. The preeminence of racial or sexual identity in this race has become the only way you can tell one Democratic candidate from another. And poor Edwards, distinguished by being white and male, is precluded by political correctness from trumpeting that fact. In other words, identity, by being the only difference between the candidates, is also the only area of debate left for the Democrats. And it’s no surprise that it is in this area — the substance-free area that will have absolutely nothing to do with the way in which a Democrat, if victorious, will govern — that the Democratic debate has become most heated.

So, I guess I’m happy that Republicans are focused on substance, and using their free speech rights to hammer out important issues that will have a lasting effect on America (if a Republican wins). And I’m desperately sad that the cookie-cutter Democrats, in order to have a debate and distinguish themselves in the eyes of the voters, have almost completely backed off from any substantive issues (as to which they have no meaningful differences), and devolved into childish racial and gender name calling. If Americans elect one of them, the Country will deserve what it gets.

UPDATE: Regarding the enthusiasm gap the media professes to find between Dems and Republicans, if one does indeed exist, I suspect that has more to do with the enthusiasm Democratic voters have for a shot at the White House than with anything else. That is, I think that, even more than feeling excitement about their own candidates, Democrats are simply excited about a possible chance to defeat Republicans.

UPDATE II: For another reason why there might be an “enthusiasm gap,” keep in mind that, while Bush’s presidency is almost over, Bush Derangement Syndrome continues in full force. Indeed, with the inevitable end of his presidency drawing near, Bush haters seem to be drawing on after burners for some new energy.

Two views of Giuliani

Dennis Prager lauds Giuliani (and I think he’s right) and the Times attacks Giuliani (they’re their usual “he’s a meanie” attack). I like Giuliani and always have. I prefer the political positions Romney has taken, which is why I’ve endorsed him, but I would very, very happily cast my vote for Giuliani. I’d be delighted if his big gamble pays off and he pays no price for having ignored Iowa and New Hampshire. Considering how unstable the frontrunner field is going into Florida, maybe he did do the right thing — or, at least, maybe he didn’t do the horribly wrong thing.

UPDATE:  Thanks, BHG.  I’m good at grammar — and really bad at proofreading.

When it comes to war, everything old is new again

Danny Lemieux alerted me to a Jerusalem Post article that uses the Civil War as a prism through which to examine the upcoming elections. Max Singer, who wrote the article, points out that Lincoln was losing big time in the lead-up to the 1864 elections (with daily death tolls sometimes equal to or exceeding all the lives lost in four years in Iraq) and that Democrats were then, as they are now, insisting that all was lost and the President and his party should go:

But on September 1 the news reached Washington that Atlanta had fallen to the Union army, and on election day it appeared as if the North was on the way to victory. Lincoln was decisively reelected. And, according to historian Allan Nevins, “The damage done to the Democratic Party by the platform could not be undone. Its … stigmatization of the heroic war effort as worthless gave the Northern millions an image of the Democratic Party they could never forget….and would cost the party votes for a generation.”

FOR WELL over a year now most prominent Democrats have insisted that the Iraq war had been lost and that the US should get its troops home as quickly as possible. It was true that the US was losing the war in 2006. Two responses were possible. The Democrats response was, in effect, “the war is hopeless, we should give up.” The administration response was, “we have to do something different so that we can win.”

Most voters prefer the second response – especially when it is successful.

In November 2008 it is likely to be clear that if the US had followed the Democrats’ advice the US would have suffered an unnecessary defeat. Those voters who believe that the US is facing dangerous threats from jihadis may well feel that it is not safe to bring to power the party that would have brought defeat in Iraq.

It certainly would be nice if Singer was right. I’m not always sure that we Americans are the same people, though, as Americans of yore. I first had this feeling in a barren, hot, rock strewn, windswept canyon in the middle of nowhere Utah. What distinguished it from other, similar canyons is that it was a highway for the pioneers. The walls were filled with hundred year old graffiti from those who passed through: messages to loved ones, boasts of survival and, so often, death notices. It was quite moving because it was such a testament to the spirit of endurance that characterized that American generation.

As I stood there in the blistering heat, with no water to be seen, I couldn’t help contrasting those pioneers with modern Americans. We’re a people who drive a block to pick up a gallon of milk, who freely spill our sordid secrets on Talk TV, and who have raised a generation of children that has never heard a discouraging word, no matter how well-deserved it might be. I wonder, therefore, whether we as a nation still have the drive, the commitment, the stamina and the integrity to take on any long fight. I worry that, as with the Romans at the end of their Empire, we’ve become so effete we can no longer defend ourselves. It took the Romans 500 years or so to reach that pass. Have we, in the modern, accelerated age, managed to do the same in half that time?

UPDATE: Turns out that Rudy Giuliani has the same sense of modern American malaise as I have, but he’s much more optimistic. Over at BotW, I read this excerpt from a recent Giuliani speech:

I get very, very frustrated when I . . . hear certain Americans talk about how difficult the problems we face are, how overwhelming they are, what a dangerous era we live in. I think we’ve lost perspective. We’ve always had difficult problems, we’ve always had great challenges, and we’ve always lived in danger.

Do we think our parents and our grandparents and our great grandparents didn’t live in danger and didn’t have difficult problems? Do we think the Second World War was less difficult that our struggle with Islamic terrorism? Do we think that the Great Depression was a less difficult economic struggle for people to face than the struggles we’re facing now? Have we entirely lost perspective of the great challenges America has faced in the past and has been able to overcome and overcome brilliantly? I think sometimes we have lost that perspective.

Do you know what leadership is all about? Leadership is all about restoring that perspective that this country is truly an exceptional country that has great things that it is going to accomplish in the future that will be as great and maybe even greater than the ones we’ve accomplished in the past. If we can’t do that, shame on us.

And to this, James Taranto adds a little more:

This is exactly right, and we hope Giuliani keeps hammering home the point. In the conservative circles in which we usually travel, we hear far too much depressive, alarmist talk.

And the left is much worse. They are so scared of terrorism that they have constructed an elaborate system of denial. They lash out at anyone who takes the terror threat seriously (see Glenn Greenwald‘s silly attack on the Giuliani speech for an example), but their complacency is obviously phony, as evidenced by their lurid and obsessive fantasies about torture, tyranny, global warming and all other manner of unreal horrors.

In the same vein, as I wrote to a friend a week or so back, I think that Conservatives have one advantage in the upcoming election:  As is Giuliani, they’re all fundamentally optimistic.  I know that they recognize we’re engaged in a Titanic struggle between civilizations, a struggle that is depressing to think about, but their underlying optimism emerges in the fact that they believe America is a pretty great place.  Democrats, on the other hand, deny the struggle, but are happy to tell us how rotten with are, and how much we could be if we could just allow them to change everything about ourselves.  People don’t like hearing that kind of stuff in personal relationships, and may well dislike hearing it in political relationships too.

I like Giuliani’s speech — a lot

Check it out.  What do you think?

Just a reminder that Rudy’s marital history probably shouldn’t matter

If I didn’t say this would happen over and over again, I certainly hinted at it or, at least, laid the groundwork for its inevitability.

I’ll just add here that it’s the height of chutzpah that Hillary (by proxy) is leading the attack against Rudy Giuliani on marital grounds.  Unlike the other Demo candidates who appear to have pretty strong and apparently normal marriages, Hillary’s marriage with Bill, while it has lasted, falls a little too neatly into the traditional paradigm of the abused, weak women clinging desperately to her abusive, womanizing husband.  (This citation will lead you to the some of the worst that has been said about the marriage.  Even if some of it is false hearsay, Bill’s repeated, public sexual transgressions lead to the inevitably conclusion that at least some of it is true.)  Is Hillary really the candidate who wants to have marriage made fair game?

(And sorry for the light blogging today, but work called and I had to answer.)

The feeding fenzy that won’t happen **BUMPED**

Is it me, or is the political scene in our country getting stupider? In the last few days, I’ve read story after story where politics seems to be happening in an alternate reality where common sense and logic are entirely absent.

The most recent example is the plan in San Francisco to issue identity cards to illegal aliens, a plan apparently being contemplated in other major urban areas as well (such as New York). Of course, I find it disturbing that modern American civic “leaders” are cheerfully and publicly figuring out ways to aid and abet the violation of federal laws. However, I realized some time ago that, in our modern era, civil disobedience got turned upside down, with the martyrdom factor Thoreau envisioned entirely absent, and social lionization the norm instead.

What really bothers me with this most recent and blatant attack on federal law is the knowledge that the INS, which is about to receive as a huge gift a City’s work identifying all illegal aliens living within its borders, is not going to take advantage of that fact. I mean, logic would dictate that, if criminals line up to get a card saying “I am a criminal,” the policing agency tasked with apprehending those criminals would pick them off like sharks in a feeding frenzy. In our topsy turvy world, though, all that will happen is that San Francisco’s illegals will get themselves cards formally identifying them as federal law breakers, cards they’ll use to facilitate their ability to pick up taxpayer-funded welfare benefits, while our federal agents sit on the sidelines and watch.

UPDATE: Who knew? Giuliani says that getting illegals out of the country implicates civil, not criminal, federal jurisdiction. Because he’s a very experienced federal prosecutor, I’m going to assume he’s correct. That leads me to a couple of points. First, it doesn’t change the core issue in my post, which is that the City of San Francisco is still proposing to offer the Feds a gift of people lining up to identify themselves as criminals who can be subject to the civil process of deportation — and the Feds will still refuse that gift.

Second, I’m sure Giuliani’s going to be castigated as “soft on immigration” for stating this fact. If that’s the case, it’s just plain wrong. To recite legal consequences with accuracy is not to be “soft” on anything. It’s just being, well, accurate.

The other thing Giuliani is going to get heat for is for saying that he doesn’t believe the feds should be criminalizing illegal immigration, a position he makes on practical grounds:

Illegal immigration shouldn’t be a crime, either, Giuliani said: “No, it shouldn’t be because the government wouldn’t be able to prosecute it. We couldn’t prosecute 12 million people. We have only 2 million people in jail right now for all the crimes that are committed in the country, 2.5 million.”

As a practical matter, he’s correct, but it does sound as if he’s saying that, because deportation is hard to enforce, we shouldn’t bother. And simply to state, as he does, that “My solution is close the border to illegal immigration,” is only part of the answer. Of course we should close the border — but there is still the little matter of the millions of people here illegally. I don’t like the idea of saying that deportation is too much work, so we just shouldn’t bother. That smells of amnesty, and all amnesty does is remind everyone South of the Border that it’s always worth making the effort to come here because you might just be able to stick around for good.

Giuliani should also stop trying to justify and support New York’s amnesty policy which bars City employees from turning illegal immigrants over to the INS — making them complicit in their illegality:

The former New York mayor has been defending his city’s so-called sanctuary policy, which stopped city workers from reporting suspected illegal immigrants. The policy is intended to make illegal immigrants feel that they can report crimes, send their children to school or seek medical treatment without fear of being reported. It did require police to turn in illegal immigrants suspected of committing crimes.

If illegal immigrants are troubled by crimes, having problems getting their kids to school, and worried about getting medical treatment, perhaps those problems will make them reconsider their decision to be here illegally in the first place. And maybe, lacking incentives to stay, they’ll go home — a self-policing decision that will relieve the Feds of trying to engage in the civil tactic of deporting millions of immigrants in the first place.

I like Rudy, and he’s right to define properly the nature of the deportation process, but there is no defense for each City to create itself as a little amnesty haven, making a mockery of federal laws and turning the US into a honey pot for illegal conduct.

UPDATE II: And because I’m so not an immigration or crim law attorney, I’m grateful to Hot Air for more nuanced information about the civil vs. criminal jurisdiction issues associated with illegal immigrants. Again, it still doesn’t change my bottom line that, whether criminal or civil jurisdiction is involved, the Feds won’t even take self-identified illegal immigrants as a gift.

Papa Giuliani

A woman in New Hampshire, who’s been billed in the MSM as an ordinary Mom but is, in fact, someone with a long record of liberal political activism, has thrust Rudy Giuliani’s parenting into the spotlight by stating “”If a person is running for president, I would assume their children would be behind them. If they’re not, you’ve got to wonder.” What an utterly fatuous thing to say, and what a waste of time for Giuliani to have to defend against this type of touchy feely garbage. Let me take a moment here to reprint an American Thinker article I wrote some months ago when I foresaw that the MSM would work this issue. Although I predicted the attack would come based on the Republican candidates’ divorce records, rather than their parenting skills, I think the principles are the same.

Marriage and Politics (first run on April 30, 2007 at American Thinker)

It was only a matter of time before Democratic politicians (as opposed to just late night talk show hosts) began commenting on the fact that the leading Republican candidates have an awful lot of ex-wives floating around. Although he’s carefully vague, one has to assume that, when Howard Dean said of Rudy Giuliani that “His personal life is a serious problem for him,” he was talking about Giuliani’s two ex-wives (not to mention his sordid divorce so that he could marry his current wife), his third wife’s ex-husbands, and his son’s disdain for the whole marriage-go-round.

Many of the other Republican candidates don’t look so good either when it comes to managing their private lives. John McCain is on wife number two and may have started his relationship with her while still married to wife number one (although since his first wife and children have forgiven him, surely we should too). Fred Thompson is likewise on wife number two, and many people will either be envious of or put off by the fact that his second wife is significantly younger than he is. Newt Gingrich also boasts a spotty marital history, marred by the popular (but untrue) belief that he served divorce papers on his first wife while she was hospitalized for cancer treatments. And as with Thompson, Gingrich’s current wife (his third) is a much younger woman. Of the leading names on the Republican side, only Mitt Romney has a clean marital record, having been married to the same woman for 38 years (a commitment that may well have been helped by the fact that, just as he is an extremely handsome man, so too is his wife a very beautiful woman).

In striking contrast to the Republicans, the Democratic frontrunners can boast that they have many fewer marriages between them. Hillary Clinton’s marriage, despite its manifest peculiarities, has lasted 32 years. One can wonder what kept her with a compulsive womanizer for so long, but the fact is that she took her marriage vows seriously, and she and Bill are still together. Barack Obama also has a good track record (aided perhaps by the fact that he’s younger than the other candidates, so hasn’t had as much time to get into trouble). He and his wife have been together 15 years. John Edwards, he of the beautiful hair, has been married to Elizabeth for 30 years. Al Gore and Tipper have been married 37 years.

Usually, when faced with these numbers (both years of marriage and number of spouses), the discussion wanders off into rants about hypocrisy. As in “It’s hypocritical for conservatives to divorce.” Or, “It’s hypocritical for a feminist such as Hillary to put up with a rampant womanizer.” As for the first argument, I don’t know that any of these much-married conservative candidates have ever advocated the end of divorce, and I’m sure all would agree, with themselves as terrible examples, that stable family relationships are good things. As for the second argument, Hillary’s private decisions about love, family and (one assumes) political expediency are hers alone, and should not be used against her in a hypocrisy argument. As the Victorians used to say, “Who knows the mysteries of the human heart?”

I actually would approach this whole marriage thing another way, and (unsurprisingly to those who know my biases) it’s a way that favors the Democrats as spouses, and the Republicans as leaders. I have no doubt but that the Democrats – by which I really mean the male Democratic candidates – are much nicer husbands than the caddish Republicans. I’m sure that, in dealing with their beloved wives, they’re sensitive and thoughtful. They like to talk about their feelings and, in turn, they’re willing to listen when their wives talk about their own feelings. When there’s a big decision to be made in the family, these men make sure that their wives are full partners in the decision-making. They’re probably just dreamy husbands.

The question, though, is whether those dreamy spousal qualities are what we want in a President. That is, do we really want a President who will sit for hours listening to people in the Oval Office, whether employees, Congress people, or foreign leaders, sharing their feelings, while periodically chiming in with his own recitation of emotional moments? Do we want someone who would never be rude enough to end a discussion and simply make a judgment call? Is it appropriate for the leader of the most powerful nation in the world always to take feelings into account when he makes a decision?

I get uncomfortable when I think of our Commander-in-Chief sensitively opining that “I’m worried that it will hurt Kim Jong-Il feelings if we increase sanctions against him for going ahead with his weapon’s program.” Equally awful would be our emotionally open leader reminding his Cabinet team that “You have to understand that Ahmadinejad is throwing out these nuclear threats against Israel because he feels humiliated by their technological sophistication, despite their nation’s small size. And he’s short. We should cut him a lot of slack because it’s understandable that his psyche responds negatively to these wounds.”

You can see why, when I think of an ideal personality for an American president, I don’t think of a New Age sensitive man. Instead, I think of someone who has strong political principles; who is willing to make tough calls (“the buck stops here“); and who does what he thinks is right, not what will make people like him.

These same leadership qualities, of course, tend to make for lousy modern-day husbands. They might have worked in a pre-modern era, when the husband was the head of his home, just as the President is the executive in charge of his country, but they work very badly in today’s world, where husbands and wives are expected to be partners.

No modern woman worth her salt is going to be happy in a relationship with someone who is pretty darn sure he knows what’s right; who is more interested in the big picture (his ideas about family economics, personal job security, etc.) than in what makes her happy; and who doesn’t care if his decisions ultimately rub her, and everyone in the neighborhood or family, the wrong way, as long as he thinks they’re the right decisions. In other words, partnership and leadership are not the same things, and they call for very different qualities. Someone who succeeds in the first arena may be precisely what we don’t need in the second one.

So feel free to consider the candidates’ personal lives when you’re contemplating casting your vote for one or another, whether in the primaries or in the Presidential election itself. Just remember that, merely because one candidate is a devoted husband may not make him a powerful leader (and Americans wisely like strong leaders during times of crisis), while the fact that another candidate is a difficult spouse, although not indicative of his ability to partner sensitively (which is a luxury for peace time), may nevertheless prove the more important fact that he can lead well during a crisis.

(If you think this post deserves prominence on Patrick Ruffini’s 2008 Presidential Wire, please click **here**.)

UPDATE: It occurred to me that Romney’s enduring marriage may not be out of synch with the other Republicans when it comes to leadership abilities. My understanding is that, in a traditional Mormon marriage, the man is very much the old fashioned pater familias. If that is indeed the expectation with which the Romneys went into their marriage, and that is the dominant theme for their marriage, there needn’t be much contrast between Romney’s style and home and his style in politics — nor would there be friction in the marriage about the absence of such contrast.