Posts Tagged ‘2012’

The other day on Fox’s 12 in 2012 series, I heard Jim DeMint make an interesting argument.  When asked how he felt about Mitch Daniels’ suggestion that conservatives “declare a truce on social issues,” DeMint said the following:

You can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative.  A large part of the expansive government is to take…make up for a dysfunctional society because our culture’s falling apart…the family’s falling apart.

I’m not sure I agree with DeMint with regard to all social issues.  For example, I fail to see how supporting homosexual civil unions is connected to the expansive growth of government.  On others (e.g., abortion) I think he could make a strong argument.  I’m curious what you think about “the DeMint Doctrine.”

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Hoosier Next President?

Posted: November 7, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

In the wake of Tuesday’s landslide for Republicans, one underreported story was the virtually unprecedented number of statehouse legislatures the GOP took over.  Redistricting is sure to make all of these gains vitally important, but perhaps none can so much affect the 2012 GOP nomination as the conquest of the Indiana state legislature.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has been talked about quite a bit as a potential 2012 contender.  (Nevermind that the Governor has said he has no intention of running for anything again.)  The removal of Democratic legislative opponents clears the way for Daniels to end his already successful governorship (he currently enjoys something like 69% approval) on a crescendo of accomplishment.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Daniels is preparing to push through fiscal conservative measures such as merit pay for teachers, making it easier to target and fire bad teachers, charter and virtual schools, and the elimination of executive-order collective bargaining without legislative approval.

Yet Daniels, should he ultimately choose to run, could be dogged by a number of questions regarding his “fit” with the GOP.  In the first place, the previously cited Star article notes the Governor wants to centralize various state government structures and consolidate some school systems, all in the name (one presumes) of efficiency and budget-consciousness.

Regrettably, Daniels has been rather impolitic recently regarding some issues near and dear to the conservative base.  First was his opining that the GOP ought to declare a “truce” on social issues.  Second–and perhaps even more damning–was his weigh-in on the results of the historic GOP mid-terms.  He told the Hill that the GOP, “didn’t turn up the strongest Senate candidates.”  No matter how tired the public has grown of Obama by 2012, I still find it difficult to believe that any candidate can win a general election by alienating his/her own base.  (Remember John McCain?)  If Daniels can’t unify a divided party, why should anyone expect him to unify a divided country?

Why Daniels felt the need to do this is a bit disturbing.  Initially, I suspected that he was merely trying to curry favor with the Party bosses and elites.  Upon learning more about Mitch, it seems plausible that he was simply exercising his maverick streak and speaking his mind.  In either case, the comments weren’t very savvy for a potential presidential candidate.

Daniels has amply demonstrated his acumen as a chief executive and numbers guy in Indiana.  Even if he chooses not to run in 2012–he recently told Fox News’ Brett Baier that, “[I] never plan to be a candidate for anything again, and have said so over and over”–I would hope any future conservative administration will exert a lot of effort to try and bring Daniels on board in a post like Treasury Secretary.

Amid the flurry of post-election news coverage, Mike Pence announced his resignation as head of the House GOP conference.  This came as no surprise as the congressman had previously signaled his intention.

The real question now is: Will Pence run for governor of Indiana, or President of the United States?  The language of his announcement leaves wiggle room for either eventuality.

“As we consider new opportunities to serve Indiana and our nation in the years ahead, I have come to realize that it may not be possible to complete an entire term as conference chairman. As such, I think it would be more appropriate for me to step aside now, especially since there are other talented men and women in our conference who could do the job just as well or better.”

Ed Feigenbaum, publisher of Indiana Legislative Insight, echoes a familiar refrain on Pence’s chances for the Oval Office:

“If he takes a close and honest look at himself and tries to evaluate his political strengths and weaknesses, the one apparent weakness in his resume is management experience.”

The conventional thinking goes that Pence could successfully run for governor–current governor, Mitch Daniels, will be term limited out and is rumored to be considering a presidential bid himself–serve a term or two and then nicely round out his resume for a future presidential bid.

It’s true enough that House members rarely get elected to the White House.  The last time it happened was 1880, when James A. Garfield was the beneficiary of an exceedingly strange confluence of events. (For an engaging read on this topic, I strongly recommend:  Kenneth D. Ackerman’s Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield)

Conventional wisdom is right most of the time (otherwise, it wouldn’t be conventional wisdom) but that does not mean it is infallible.  Twenty years before Garfield, the nation chose to elect to its highest office a man whose prior experience in elected office amounted to a single term in the House of Representatives.  That man, Abraham Lincoln,  came to be remembered as one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history.

It is sometimes tempting to think that such political oddities as a Congressman (i.e., Garfield, Lincoln) or a barroom brawler (i.e., Jackson) becoming President were political blue moons reserved to 19th century, we’ve just come through an election cycle that saw the sitting governor of FL defeated in the primaries despite being supported by all the conventional political elites.  We have witnessed an absolutely historic wave of GOP elections in across the country.  We have witnessed sustained conservative activism (via the Tea Party movement) hinting that conservatives will, at long last, start matching the persistence and engagement of grass-roots Left wing groups.  In other words, all bets are off.

Ultimately, Pence would be best advised to take his own counsel on the options.  He probably can’t go wrong running for governor; But if he wants the top job, I see no reason he couldn’t win it.  All of the other putative front-runners have baggage of one sort or another to overcome.  As near as I can tell, Pence’s greatest challenge would be lack of name recognition and fundraising.  The first is very easily overcome in today’s 24/7 news cycle.  (Think about it.  How long did it take people to find out who Christine O’Donnell was?)  If fundraising during the midterm election is any indication, the grassroots are ready (and willing) to put money into candidates they believe in.  For my part, Pence, is someone I could see myself skipping a few meals to support.

Whether anyone chooses to openly acknowledge it or not, the 2012 race is now upon us.  With that in mind, I ran across an article at Red State that proposes some rather sweeping changes to the GOP nomination process.  While I don’t agree with quite everything in the article, on the whole I like it.  I’m in basic agreement that we need to slow the thing down and get rid of this ridiculous notion that we’ve only got about two months to vet candidates and then we need to have one selected, “so they can start focusing on beating the Democrats.”  That’s a bull-crap line used by the elites to try to run the dark horse candidates out before they have much of a chance to get their messages out.  Anyway, I don’t want to steal the thunder of an exciting article.  Here’s a taste of what you’ve been missing:

Who is in control of this process? Technically in charge is the national Republican Party, with the state GOP parties, state legislatures, and the national leftist media(yes, that’s what I said under my breath too!), all having a finger in the pie. As a practical matter, nobody is in charge. It’s a zoo, the monkeys are out of the cages, and they’re flinging poo at each other.

Seriously, the system is a complex system driven by multiple entities with often competing interests. All those groups have been allowed to grab whatever influence and control that they could get away with. The result is chaos, and that result would only by delightful accident produce a candidate satisfactory to the bulk of voting Republicans.

For the full article, click here.

The latest rumors surrounding Rep. Mike Pence are that he is considering stepping down from his House Leadership position shortly after the mid-term elections in order to prepare for a run at either the presidency or the Indiana governorship.  Politico notes Pence, “he has made a number of high-profile stops all over the country, including most recently in Florida, Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

Mike Pence: While some argue Pence would face significant challenges in either race, it seems obvious to me that the hurdles to overcome in a presidential run are far greater than those that would face him in a gubernatorial campaign.  This is not to say, however, that Pence shouldn’t run for President.  I happen to think Pence brings some real strengths to the table.

Primary opponents are likely to argue Pence has no credibility as a fiscal conservative because he took earmarks until 2008.  This is an argument with more emotional than logical appeal.  A lot of people (myself included) who don’t really care for most of the government’s social programs nonetheless take advantage of them because the system has been set up in such a way that we currently cannot make ends meet without them.  This doesn’t mean we can’t be honest proponents for a new and better structuring of the nation’s fiscal house.  Similarly, if the best argument that can be levelled against Pence is that he took some earmarks, that seems pretty weak.  I’d want to know precisely what the nature of the earmarks were.  Was he building bridges to nowhere, or studying the mating habits of turtles…or were these earmarks that went to more productive, job-producing projects?

Furthermore, who else is going to have a stronger fiscal record than Pence? Romney passed proto-Obamacare in Massachusetts…Huckabee practiced a state-level version of Bush’s Big Government Conservatism in Arkansas…Palin was a sometime proponent of the earmarks in Alaska.  In contrast, Pence “led the unsuccessful opposition to Bush’s elephantine Medicare bill.” The only two people with “street cred” greater than Pence on fiscal matters would be Ron Paul and Mitch Daniels, both of whom are likely to have a very difficult time winning the support of the important social conservative base in the Republican Party.

While campaign funding is likely to be one of the early weaknesses of a Pence campaign, he is likely to have an advantage in the critical area of volunteer passion and enthusiasm.  As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, “Pence has come to occupy an unusual niche over the past two years. He’s one of the few Washington political leaders who’s won widespread support among tea party activists.”

While it’s vogue in some circles to argue that Republicans have to surrender ground on social issues in order to win.  (Nevermind that it’s quite an odd strategy to secure victory by completely abandoning your base.)  I tend to think that America has not so much turned against social conservatives as it has turned against fakes and opportunists.  Against people who advocate for (or against) social issues only for political gain.  Pence gives every indication of being a down-the-line conservative who both capable of and willing to fuse the social and fiscal strains of conservatism into one coherent bloc.  Consider these words from his speech at the Values Voter Summit:

Now I know some say that Republicans should stay away from such issues this year…that the American people are focused on jobs and spending and our movement would do well to stand aside, bank the win and return to fight after this fiscal and economic crisis has passed, but we do not live in a world where an American leader can just focus on our financial ledger. A political party that would govern this great nation must be able to handle more than one issue at a time. We must focus on our fiscal crisis and support our troops. We must work to create jobs and protect innocent human life…To those who say we should focus on cutting spending, I say ‘Ok, let’s start by denying all federal funding for abortion at home and abroad! Stop funding research that destroys human embryos in the name of science…We must not remain silent when great moral battles are being waged. Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life … have forgotten the lessons of history. As in the days of a House divided, America’s darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles…Men and women, we must demand, here and now, that the leaders of the Republican Party stand for life” and to do so without apology.

 

Bobby Jindal: Nowadays, if you mention Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as  a possible candidate in 2012, you’re likely to hear groans of disbelief followed by references to his–admittedly lackluster, and “Howdy-Doody-esque”–televised response to President Obama’s first State of the Union.

Don’t get me wrong.   Jindal absolutely botched that speech, but does that really make him “un-presidential”?  More to the point, after four years of the eloquent Speech-Maker-in-Chief and his miraculous travelling road show of +10% unemployment, does anyone really expect oratorical prowess to be the primary quality Americans will want in their next leader?  There’s nothing quite like pandemic unemployment and the shuttering of businesses to cause a shift in the electorate.

I suspect we’ll get a taste of that shift in about a week.  If the new Republican surge in D.C. doesn’t shoot itself in the foot, and if Jindal continues to take care of business in Louisiana, he could be a very electable candidate in 2012.

Herman Cain: There’s no doubt in my mind that “the Hermanator” is the strongest communicator of any of the potential GOP candidates.  (Chris Christie is the only other person I see with a similar knack for speaking to the average American).  Additionally Cain has proven himself as an organizer, administrator, cheerleader, and all around executive in the business world.  The one area where he’s not previously shown an ability to excel is–unfortunately–politically.  Cain ran for the Senate in Georgia a cycle or so back and was beaten in the primary by the eventual winner (Sen. Johnny Isakson).

Things could well be different in 2012, however.  Since his loss to Isakson, Cain’s name recognition nationally has shot upwards–thanks in large part to his successful radio show and his early and high-profile role in the Tea Party movement.  Another obvious advantage to Cain is that he would have credibility in defending against the Left’s unscrupulous charge that the Tea Party (read: “conservatism-in-general”) is actually just racism.

I would have preferred if Cain would’ve run for governor this cycle.  My opinion is that he could have run away with the nomination and the election.  As they say, “if ifs and buts were candy and nuts…”

Sara Palin: Despite the relentless barrage of criticism levelled at the former Alaska Governor, only a fool would deny Palin’s skill at connecting with grass-roots conservatives.  In the past, Republicans have been far too infatuated with finding someone “electable” that he fail to nominate a candidate even capable of holding the base.   Palin would have no trouble here.

That being said, she still has to appeal to the marginally political as well.  While I think the “ditzy broad” image is something she could easily overcome.  (Honestly, everyone in America realizes that no matter who the GOP nominates, the Left is going to go after them as either stupid or Hitlerian.  Hell, they’ll probably accuse them of both simultaneously!  The upshot of the predictable slander, is that I doubt it has that much real effect on voting.  What could hurt Palin, however, is the fact that she bailed out of Alaska before her term was up.

In fairness, I can see the argument that the crap her family was having to go through made the work of running the state almost impossible.  I don’t blame anyone for wanting a little peace.  Yet if that was the real reason she had to leave the governor’s office, what will she do in the Oval?  I mean, you gotta expect that the barrage of criticism from the Left is not going to lessen when she’s in a more powerful role.

This is pretty obvious stuff, which leads me to think that Palin knows that as well.  If she does, then that raises the question of whether the decision to leave Alaska was as altruistic as she tried to make it sound.  I realize all politicians have to do a bit of pandering…but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  Personally, I wish she had just come out and said, “I’m getting tired of this endless stream of pissants, so I’m gonna go make some serious jack!  Start campaigning like hell all over the country to shut ’em down!  And get ready to clear the board in 2012!”

Okay, This post is already getting longer than I had originally intended, so I’m going to stop here.  Next time, we’ll take a look at Bobby Jindal.  Also, I’m thinking that Pence, Paul, and DeMint may have gotten short shrift in my first post so I plan to write a bit more about each of them later.  Finally, I’d like to begin writing a little about some of the rising stars of the Tea Party movement.  I’ve got some ideas, but if you wish to recommend anyone, please do so.