Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to Pick A GOP Candidate Part 2 - POLICY

You can put a thong on a a RINO but it still ain’t attractive

So this was supposed to be wrapped up in 2 parts and I hate to tell you - it's gonna be 3.  I just find I have more brilliant analysis than I thought I did and, of course, it would be a disservice to withhold that from you.  So this will be Part 2 - Policy, and Part 3 will be How they Manage.  In Part 3 I will grade candidates by ELECTABILITY, Policy Issues and actual Governing/Managing indicators.  There will be a bonus blog on the candidates spouses. (Part 3 here)

We ended up in Part 1 discussing what characteristics makes a candidate ELECTABLE.  We all agreed (whether you know you did or not) with my brilliant observation that we don’t just desire to get our candidate elected, but we want them to be able to MANAGE effectively.  Otherwise you get what the Dem’s got right?  “YAY! OUR GUY GOT ELECTED!  DONKEY! DONKEY! DONKEY! …oh sh*t…what the hell did we do!

I'm not sure any of the GOP candidates could screw things up as badly as Obama did for his Party of Ass.  But the issue is deeper than political disaster.  The future of the Republic really is at stake.  Imagine a President who looked good, talked conservative, cut taxes and stimulated the economy but only:
  • Marginally corrected the Social Security trust fund so it wouldn’t be bankrupt for 50 years instead of 25.
  • Scaled back some of ObamaCare but left the 159 new agencies in place.
  • Rolled back some executive orders and fired a few ‘czars’ (Again leaving legacy positions an authority for the NEXT president to shut down the internet in a "crisis," and permanently funded bureaucratic boondogles like this)
  • Did nothing on immigration that either closed borders, penalized companies hiring illegals or reduced illegal immigration to traditional norms.
  • Didn’t address the liability the Federal Reserve put on the US by lending to foreign banks (or countries) that could default.
  • Did nothing to substantially change the reach of the EPA, DOE’s etc. EXCEPT to put new managers in and curtail some regulations.
This essentially is Bush 3 and would set the stage for someone like Hillary or worse to take a shot at big government liar #46.  GETTING ELECTED is not even half the battle.  To allow this country to prosper there are fundamental structure and policy issues that have to be changed - and in some cases eliminated, to protect against the government growth abuses going back to LBJ.

(With apologies to Rush) UNDENIABLE PolitiJim Truth #4577: During the primary, the base of the Party eliminates candidates who don't adhere to their core principles.  Giuliani couldn't make it past the pro-life base, and narrowed conservative options who split the vote in 2008 leaving us with McCain.

UNDENIABLE PolitiJim Truth #4578:  The people who don't "tune in" until the last 10 seconds of the general election decide the close ones.  In 2008 - American voters ONLY heard the chatter of the mainstream media and the adoration for Barak in contrast to several serious McCain erratic fumbles during the economic crisis.  Obama sold that he was for tax cuts for the middle class, and was even better equipped to handle the economic crisis.  And, he wasn't George Bush.  Bush allowed himself (and by default his party) to be besmirched without ever truly defending himself or his policies against the unrelenting criticism of the left.  Much like Bob Dole who refused to do the same against Clinton, the public believed who was doing the 'splaining. The only way for someone whom the independents consider "extreme" to be elected in a general election is by either by:
  • Lying (Barak Obama)
  • Charisma / Conviction explaining "extreme" positions as logical/moral (Ronald Reagan)
  • Being in the opposite party of a current disaster (see Carter (Ford-Nixon), Reagan (Carter), Obama (Bush-McCain)
What is an "extreme" position at first (ie, supply side economics or universal healthcare) CAN be sold to the public if it is delivery smoothly, by a charismatic presenter and your opponent is unwilling to effectively point out it's deficiencies.

So we look at the policy issues understanding WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO THE BASE may not be an asset in the general election, unless the candidate is adept enough to make it a winning policy.

It's all about "the economy stupid,” right?

The re-election of Bill Clinton amidst allegations of illegal campaign contributions, the sale of country secrets to China (see here), and even rape confirmed two things to me.  First, regardless of the noble characteristics of virtue we WANT in a candidate - or an electorate for that matter - ultimately US voters will vote what is in their own economic self-interest.  Secondly, we have no real leaders - spiritual or political - that are successful in calling America to a higher moral standard.

It is a huge conflict for many of us because we are sick and tired of subjugating the slaughter of millions of innocent children and the issue of Constitutional justice to economics.  But the cold, hard reality is that our Republic is more interested in our own economic well being than justice, morality and "doing the right thing."  (God help us.)

Voter Issues - Aug 2011
So ECONOMIC policy is by far the most important issue in ELECTABILITY.  But since nearly all the GOP Presidential candidates agree on cutting spending and balancing the budget to one degree or another - let's save that for last for strategic reasons.

What are the top issues so far in the election?  Let's run through what political stances our candidates must have.

Isn't it funny that Obama campaigned on cleaning up the terrible lobbying corruption and supposed ethical misdeeds of the Bush administration and it wasn't even a category of choice by pollster CNN or FOX (pdf).  In 2007 it showed up as a major issue but wasn't "owned" by either party. And yet, according to Rassmussen, it comes in number two behind the economy.  Although the Fast & Furious/Gun Runner scandal and Solyndra have gotten press the past few weeks, what possible 'ethics and corruption' issues could have possibly made voters put it in importance before healthcare, taxes or immigration?  Weiner wouldn't. Congress is at all time approval lows, but the current congressional investigations barely warrant mention in alternative media.  I don't really have a factual basis for knowing how many American voters actually understand how blatantly corrupt Pelosi and Reid were in forcing through ObamaCare and other legislation, but I can't imagine it would top the charts today.

I also have no idea if a specific politician intentionally posted fraudulent birth certificates, falsified selective service registration and an ineligibility to be hired as a migrant worker under e-Verify due to a fraudulent Social Security number have anything to do with this. I couldn't find one single article this year explaining the breakdown of this issue rating.  However, I find it interesting that while lampooned, Trump soared into the lead in the GOP Presidential nomination polls with the birther issue front and center.  When Obama released the (fraudulent) long form version and BOTH conservative and mainstream media put out their gag order, his numbers fell.  Coincidence?

I understand some of you have not kept 'up' on this topic and don't understand the "birther" issue now has little to do with whether Obama was born in Kenya.  I agree it is too late to argue that with a Kenyan/British father - Obama is NOT qualified to be President.  But the overwhelming evidence of fraud, forgery, cover-up and misuse of power can not be swept under the rug without serious consequences to our future.  Justice is not revenge.  It is reinforcing our acknowledgement of what is right - so that future generations are not just deterred from wrongdoing, but inspired to uphold it.  Certainly the Fast & Furious and Solyndra scandals are an easier starting point for candidates to launch from as it reflects on responsibilities under Obama's authority - usurped or not.

The field only boasts 3½ players who can point to a history of attacking corruption.  Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are the only two announced candidates. (Newt gets ½ credit for eliminating waste and welfare reform).  The two strongest candidates are yet unannounced.  Giuliani was a former Federal prosecutor and Palin did the unthinkable in breaking apart not only the oil industry corruption in her state, but dismantling the corrupt GOP party machine as a Republican.

Like many I've been unable to understand how Obama could be "liked" in the 50%+ range but disapproved of at the same time.  If they truly believed he broke tax law in his Rezko land deal used a fake SSN for 20 years and openly submitted a forged birth certificate - do you really think those "favorability" ratings would continue?  Of course not. 

A word of warning to my conservative friends who want to bury this issue: If the polling can be shown to support this presumption - responsible prosecution of Obama could actually be the winning issue for a candidate like Perry who is faltering or a Bachmann who is loosing steam.  But It is uninformed to accept the notion the issue is 'untouchable' if it is the second hottest issue with voters.  Why haven't ANY candidates mentioned this in three debates?  I can't imagine.  Race42012 - has an excellent overview on the broader ethics issues as well.

Bachmann gets a 100%, A++, Gold Star, Candidate of the Month award for explaining that a mere waiver for states, does not eliminate the 159 agencies or permanent tax structures put in place by ObamaCare.  I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt that she meant she would lead the effort to overturn it (rather than repeal it by royal decree), but she has been spot on as to the importance of this being a platform to grow government, spending and to be misused by future Presidents. Cain hasn't been as emphatic on the issue but has been consistent in asking for repeal.  Romney finally added "repeal" to his "Executive Order for states waiver" - but I hope he realizes that the whole "Executive Order" idea is a hot button on executive privilege misuse by many conservatives.  (We are paying for the deaf ear we turned to liberals who complained about Bush's misuse of it for sure.)

Romney is obviously the weakest on this subject and I don't need to repeat the befuddlement by other bloggers and journalists as to why Mitt continues to get very little pressure on this.  I hope it is not because our candidates are not aware of the complexities of it's dangers.  As the Administration has strategically buried the whole subject, I pray our candidates have not forgotten the fundamental arguments of HOW this is killing healthcare innovation, fee and drug rates, doctor recruitment and by default - the economy.  They MUST get sharp again on this issue as the campaigns move forward or it will become like that hazy confusion of why you broke up with that high school flame who reappears.

But aside from just repealing OCare, I've only heard Cain and Santorum talk about Health Savings accounts and how to let insurance companies compete across state boundaries to bring down costs.  Like many I am unsold that Romney and Huntsman will make this a "make or break issue" if they are elected but will say whatever to get through the primaries.  I am only 100% convinced by Bachmann she truly won't give up on it - as diligently as the opposition wouldn't give up in cramming it through.
2010 Gallup Poll of Voter Top Issues

TAXES - Hunstman had the scariest answer of all at the Fox/Google debate.  He said we should never raise taxes during a recession.  I have no doubt at the first growth numbers from the ThinkProgress he'd sign anything.  Dick Morris says it best. "He's running in the wrong party." The rest of the field all seem to understand this issue to one degree or another.  It is interesting that Rasmussen said most voters understand cutting taxes gets the economy going.  That should play well for all of our candidates.

EDUCATION - Bachmann has one of the better pedigree's here and perhaps because this issue polls lower for conservatives (Not a Federal issue to us) it doesn't get a lot of air time.  If our candidates platform is to eliminate the Department of Education, having started a school would be a wonderful immunity offset.  With most apolitical Americans likely associating the existence of a Department of Education with BETTERING education, this is a great opportunity to educate the public on what kind of waste, inefficiency and LOWER test scores the DOE has gotten us.  "How can you hate the kids?" becomes, "How can you keep lowering their aptitude?"

SOCIAL SECURITY - Paging Rick Perry.  Once again Karl Rove and Mitt Romney needlessly complicated the campaign of a conservative cause (not just the candidate) with their arrogance and opportunistic blabbermouthing.  (If that isn't a word it should be.  I'm trademarking it).  If Milton Friedman, one of the conservative economics geniuses of our time called it a Ponzi scheme - IT'S A PONZI SCHEME!  Rove is still trying to steer a car by looking out the sideview mirror of polling, worried about perceptions than actually CHANGING political dynamics.  Cain did a brilliant job at both the debate and the StarWars bar afterparty (aka MSNBC interview) by not backing down on this at all.  Add in a little more understanding of HOW BAD it is and how bad it is is going to be in the future (ie, 140 people supported one senior when Social Security started and now 2.9 people do and it's heading lower,) and we will strip that third rail off of the Democratic Hyperbole Express.

Medicaid and Medicare are normally included and ObamaCare gives the GOP a huge hammer since Obamacare cut $500 Billion from it.  Conservatives dont' have to seem to endorse state run health care but again launching a package of tort reform, consumer driven (not insurance driven) payments, deregulation and medical savings accounts.  Hopefully a candidate will finally find a way to simplify a very complex solution.

IMMIGRATION. As perhaps the best positioned social conservative in the field just learned, being a border Governor doesn't give you a pass on immigration issues.  NumbersUSA has a scorecard for the candidates according to a very austere anti-immigration outlook, while Americans for Legal Immigration have declared Perry's run is over on this issue alone.  (NumbersUSA wants NO immigration lottery at all - a stance not supported by any of the candidates accept Ron Paul who gets an overall "F".  So this is the most extreme immigration position against which they are measuring.)  According to their scorecard - Bachmann is actually the strongest candidate in the current field. Cain and Romney tied for second.

In answering my liberal friends who ask the, "Why do Republicans hate minorities so much?" question, i liken it to a mixture of three things.  First, it is economic.  Annual waste of perhaps $100 Billion or more (plus stealing jobs for teens and unskilled workers) is ridiculous.  Our own SSA website declares you don't need a social security number to get "many benefits" as a LEGAL immigrant.  Of course they don't mention the new Obama "family plan" of benefits for illegal aunts and uncles who somehow have their own Social Security card. 

After emphasizing the admiration and promotion of LEGAL immigration (see below),  I explain to my liberal friends my second and third points to their ignorantly based question.  "You know the feeling you get at DisneyWorld when you've been waiting 2 hours for the FINDING NEMO experience, wondering if you will get in before it closes, and a family of 15 suddenly slides underneath the FastPass lane into yours in front of you?  Imagine instead the pimple faced Disney employees taking up a collection from everyone else in line to not just buy them a 3 day pass, but also a churro and soft pretzel for every cheater."  This is Rick Perry's blind spot.  Our immigration basket carries a wallets have nerve endings.

Republicans are missing the boat on not touting LEGAL immigration more which would enable them to not look like the mean, angry neighbor who doesn't want kids in the neighborhood - much less the lawn.

And I don't know about you, but Bachmann took a step back when she wouldn't answer Wolf Blitzen's question as to what she would do with resident illegals IF the border were shut and IF eVerify was passed.  (I know - it's my reindeer name for him.) She clearly avoided saying that she would deport wonderful American families who had lived here for 20 years illegally.  So this brings us to the issue which Perry apologists use by saying, "The GOP would never win an election in Texas (and by implication loose the Hispanic voter forever)."  Although Latino voters align more closely with Republicans on social issues, they put immigration reform as even more important an issue than jobs and the economy. How is this possible?  One reason is because 25% of Latino's have a family member who is an "undocumented American."  Over HALF of Latino's personally know an illegal and in Texas it's higher.  So if Rick Perry takes a hard stance on illegals - he's not just spouting a Conservative principle, he's talking about making Uncle Julio and Aunt Juanita homeless by sending them back to Mexico.  Or worse, they also serve as the day care service for the entire family.  This isn't an  easy thing to ask a culture that values family above almost everything to throw loved ones into the cold.

Failure to educate and inspire American values (truth, honesty, personal responsibility) that most Latino's share - is coming back to gouge us in the glutes.  But we've bought into this idea we can't talk about right and wrong for fear we will be pegged as "judgmental."  Stealing is wrong.  Is it so hard for a candidate to acknowledge the family dilemma for Latinos and explain how this is not just an economic disloyalty to our country but a demonstration of poor moral values to their children and ours?  Stealing, rebellion and lying are ok?  I trust the majority of ALL Americans, brown, yellow, red and green, they don't LIKE the nagging feeling they are stealing from their neighbors and are poor citizens.

Pew Hispanic Poll
Ultimately, the issue is how you frame it.  As you can see from the pie chart to the right, only 28% of Latinos don't believe illegals should be punished.  I wouldn't be shocked that those are mostly those who have illegals in the family and were already Democratic voters.  If you DON'T plant these ideas during the campaign - it is infinitely more difficult to get the attention of most of the electorate to educate and persuade them of the "just" course later.  Political capital is a REAL thing.  I think a majority of conservatives can live with a candidate that advocates building a fence, stronger border manpower, business penalties for hiring illegals and leaves how to deal with resident illegals with a "to be decided later," position AS LONG AS THAT DECISION WASN'T MADE UNTIL THE OTHER POLICIES WERE IN PLACE.  But the ultimate candidate would start asking Americans if we can really live with teaching our children that breaking the law is OK as long as you haven't gotten caught for a long time.  We are a nation of grace.  What conservatives don't want are more empty promises that if we just let these illegals stay it will all be fixed later.  That dog not only won't hunt, it's been buried under the stinky bush.

Off the radar by virtue of our false sense of security from no major domestic attacks, National Security can jump back to the top of the list with one piercing hole in our national armor.  it is clear that the MSM has aided Mr. Obama from any real understanding of the threat of Islamic Extremism even on our own turf.  It is tough to hide 13 dead at Fort Hood at the hands of an Army Major Psychologist, but there has likely been as many as 55 deaths due to Islamic extremist motivations SINCE 9/11.  We should be outraged that  a majority of the country is likely not aware that the shooter Nidal Hasan called himself a "Solider of Allah" on his business card and gave the traditional Islamic, "Allah is Greater," pronouncement before killing his fellow service men and women.  The war on terror IS on American soil, but our government and media are intentionally trying to hide it with hoaks and right wing fears.

Obama got cover with his national security "cred" through retaining Bush policies against the pressure of his base and the fortune of being on watch during the Osama bin Laden kill.  A GOP nominee weak in this area could get wiped out in the polls with one debate misstep and a national security crisis.   I suspect Perry's military background, Gingrich and Paul's legislative experience, Romney's national guard administration give them all a leg up on the field.  Santorum gave excellent foreign policy answers but whoever the candidate, they will need to eliminate any doubt that they can "handle it" while giving a Presidential stature in a time of crisis.  Say what you want about Obama but, to the uneducated observer, he maintains a calm demeanor even when he doesn't know what the hell he is talking about.  Not great to manage by (as we know), but it takes away a "Dan Quail" argument of not being presidential. I'm not sure how Bachmann and Cain will be evaluated by either the GOP field or the public at large.  Visible foreign policy experts and a general or two wouldn't hurt to give them the illusion that they have a "team" already in place.  Because of his executive experience, Cain may have an easier time convincing "leaners" this won't be a problem area for him.

Conservatives are split on the wars. Unlike issues like immigration, there isn't an overwhelming position that will disqualify someone in a primary except, perhaps Paul's position on pulling completely out of the region.  Since Obama continued most of the Bush policies, I doubt that the general election voter will believe ANYONE. If they don't have a Dukakis tank moment they are likely safe on this issue.  Americans still want someone who looks like a Commander in Chief.  The myriad of images of Palin with a shotgun, Perry killing a cougar, Giuliani during 9/11 and Romney's rugged looks likely put them above question as long as they have a clear handle of foreign policy and managing our troops.

It was very interesting that The American Thinker (which you should subscribe to by the way) had two somewhat ideologically opposed articles.  One said (paraphrased) "Don't loose the election by taking your eye off of the ECONOMIC issues!"

The other said, "Conservative Social Issues are WINNERS!"  (Like Bob Turner in NY-9)  In general elections, conservatives who argued effectively and factually on gay marriage, abortion, gun control, etc HAVE consistently won.  Conservatives who themselves aren't quite sure why they believe what they believe - can come off looking ignorant.  Sorry Ron Paul fans, you can NEVER win a conservative Republican primary by advocating the legalization of marijuana.  It's a "wall" issue (like abortion) for too many of the base of the party.  It's not an economic issue - it is a "principle" issue among people that actually STRIVE to be principled.

On abortion, many of us appreciate the public stances of Reagan and Bush.  It is incomprehensible to those of us around in 1980 - that with 22 years of Republican control of the Presidency, we are still allowing unborn children to be killed.  True, there is a small segment (I believe it is 12% to 15%) of single issue voters.  But we will surely make it farther toward our goal with someone who will appoint pro-life judges at every level.

Mitt has 59 points in his economic plan.  Cain has 9 of em.  (Or 729).  All top tier candidates (including Palin and Giuliani should they run) agree on some form of the following:
  • Cut capital gains to some extent.
  • Cut the corporate tax rate making the US more competitive for attracting back businesses.
  • Kill as many regulations as possible to allow businesses to compete and grow.
  • Getting unemployment and GDP numbers correct the first time so the market doesn't have to guess at the real revision numbers.
  • Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment immediately.
  • Eliminate wasteful bureaucracies like the Departments of Energy
  • Drill, Baby Drill.
All of our candidates already agree with most of these in some form or fashion.  But it will take a great communicator to help the American public realize what worked for JFK and Reagan will work for us now.

So who's a RINO and who isn't on these issues?  Conservatives are not going to tolerate a non-committal candidate who can be doubted.  Each candidate has some serious doubt they HAVE to overcome in the eyes of the primary voter.  (Perry on Immigration, Romney on Healthcare, Cain on foreign policy, Bachmann on the "Aura" and Management thing.)  Everyone wants SuperReagan who wasn't all that successful on implementing a number of conservative principles himself. (The link is my rebuttal to someone who tried to say Reagan wasn't conservative.  Ignoramus.)

What we have here, is failure to communicate
In part 3, I will grade each candidate according to the PolitiJim scale and "weight" those things most important.  What I can already reveal is that it is HIGHLY likely in 2012, things will be so bad economically we could run Pat Roberson (of 700 Club fame) against Obama and win.  All of our candidates can win on the overriding issue of the economic policy, but again, as in Part 1, I have to bring up the factor of communication.  It is one thing to HAVE the "right" policy.  It is another thing to communicate it.  Here is a quote from the Economist prior to the 2008 election:
...71% of those who do not cleave to either main party say Mr Obama has a better grasp of economics. (Economist 2008)
We ALL now know for certain he didn't.  But even his lies were better communicated than John McCain's truths.

GOP voters are tired of the Doles, Bush and McCains who they "settled" for in previous elections.  My bet is independents are feeling the same from their Obama-lash.  I think a key quality to contrast with the Obama will largely rest on two issues:
Trust + Authenticity
A friend of mine offered an unsolicited opinion that got me thinking about not just the importance of policy - BUT WHETHER WE BELIEVE THEY TRULY MEAN IT.  She said she would door walk for Palin, and no one else.  When asked why she volunteered, "because women can see through other women - and we know we can trust her."

Some of you reading this could care less whether a politician goes back on their word.  "READ MY LIPS, NO NEW TAXES." was disappointing for you and sorrowful because of the weakness for the party or in passing more GOP positions.  (Those who mistrusted Bush 42 and voted for Clinton instead got, "I did not sleep with that woman, Monica Lewinsky" - odd huh?)

To others of us, the "Read My Lips" thing was a personal betrayal.  But because we've been waiting for someone to help us implement the true principles we know are good and right and will HELP everyone in this country including our children and grandchildren.

So what I WILL grade is the trust and authenticity of the candidates and prospective candidates below on A) Do they mean what they say and, B) Will they stand firm in their principles if elected.

Waffling on the deportation issue made me suspect if she can't say what she really thinks, she pretends the question is something else.  Standard politics - not a moral failure, but not completely sincere IMO. I have no doubt however she would do what she says.
Going on very limited information including from friends who have met him. He has shown in debates he isn't afraid to say "I don't know." Not great tactically, but that could be the #1 quality voters are looking for.
My experience tells me it is entirely possible Newt has unfairly been judged in his personal situations.  As Speaker he never wavered executing the plan he set forth.  I feel he has tried to be cute with the media and has been slow to admit mistakes. Could easily have been C's
I admire the leadership qualities of Rudy.  I believe he is a decent guy. But his church is pro-life and he isn't and the days as prosecutor make me wonder if he can be too much a politician.  Unlike Newt these could be B's but just my impression
The more I hear and know about this guy, the less I trust him. Very possible I don't have all the facts on him but my impression is that he is very shifty.
Those who have read my review of THE UNDEFEATED know I have evolved to greatly admire Palin. In interviewing those from Wasilla I admire and respect her even more.  Her fearlessness as Governor against the GOP and Big Oil make me believe that if she has been faithful in the small things, she will be faithful in much.
I have no doubt Ron Paul sincerely believes what he does and wouldn't budge an inch on his principles.  His long record as a Congressman have proven that over and over again.
I am fully persuaded Rick is faithful Christian.  However, he gave a promise to Texans he wouldn't run for President and he never asked their permission to do so.  The "faithful in small things" goes here as well
I suspect Romney is a faithful devoted husband and father and a decent human being.  Politically however he has gotten smoother and it has made me MORE suspicious not less.  His fumbling for months to explain RomneyCare gives me the impression of a willingness to not just admit mistakes but to try and cover them.  Just an impression.
Rick has proven he is undeterred by the politically expedient positions he could have taken in a much more liberal state. His "B" comes from an impression he tries too much to gloss his record (not mislead) but I might have it all wrong.  It might be more personality and communication disconnect that character.

NEXT: Part 3: How They Will Govern

(Be sure to check out my previous blog on How Ideas Become Political Reality.)


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