Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Primaries vs. The Tertiaries

This kind of clear thinking is an example of why I was proud to work on Ken Blackwell's gubernatorial campaign and hope to do so again. Excerpt:

If social conservatives disagree with Mr. Giuliani they should work to beat him in the primaries. Why the allure of the quixotic "third party" rather than a real, principled primary fight? If the issues are life, marriage, and Second Amendment freedoms, and the objective is to win, a good bet seems to be Mike Huckabee. He is right on these issues. And, he has been highlighted by pundits on all sides as the one to watch for a breakthrough.

Emphasis mine. All these people that think the objective is to "send a message" about what you think about the so-called establishment, they should write a letter or make a phone call. Those are the ways that normal people "send a message". You don't send a message by losing except for, maybe, "WE LOST LIKE WE KNEW WE WOULD -- AREN'T WE GREAT?"


  1. Normally I would agree that the way to send a message is through the primaries. My guy - Alan Keyes - lost in 1996, and I backed Dole, and my guy McCain (shudder) lost in 200O, and I still backed Bush.

    This is different. Both Bush and Dole were still acceptable candidates. All nine of Giuliani's opponents are acceptable candidates that I would have no problem supporting in a general election. What I and many other conservatives are syaing that Giulaini is just completly unacceptable, no matter who his opponent would be in the general election. He is completely wrong on important social issues like aboertion, he is marginally okay on fiscal issues, and he's completely mediocre when it comes to experience. What's more, he doesn't even offer a more coherent or substantive foreign policy alternative to his GOP opponents (or quite grankly even Hillary) to justify ignoring all the other concerns.

    And yet his supporters maintain this quixotic argument that we are to abandon all principles and vote for the guy all to avoid a Clinton presidency. What I don't understand is why any conservative is going to vote for Giuliani considering that he's unacceptable on social issues, barely tolerable on economic issues, and would alientate up to 20% of the base on election day.

    We've all but sent out the message: "anybody but Giuliani," and yet the Giuliani backers are saying "we dare you." Dare accepted.

  2. Sorry Pauli,

    Like Paul, I normally follow the logic of staying with the party but in this case, I don't get it.
    Rudy was a good mayor of NY and really made a difference in the operation of the city. If I lived in NY, I would have voted for him with a clear conscience.

    But for president? Rudy is a contributer to the largest abortion mill in the country. When he contemplated running against Hillary for senate, Mike Long of the NY conservative party told him that he would have to "at least" oppose partial birth abortion and he refused. There doesn't seem to be an abortion that Rudy doesn't love. He supports public funding of abortion and is "at best" somewhat neutral on overturning Roe. And, he is very friendly to civil unions and I don't doubt could be pursuaded to support gay marriage. Heck why not, his own fidelity to his wives and children seems to be "whatever he feels like."

    No, if we behave like doormats, the republicans will be happy to walk over social conservatives. There are those who argue that they already have in many situations but with Rudy, he seems to feel a need to wipe his feet on us.

    Bush largely won the last election because of the social conservative vote relating to the gay marriage initiatives on state ballots. Now the country-club, check-pants, set thinks they can win without us? If so, it is time to teach them a lesson they won't soon forget.

    I will not under any circumstances cast a ballot or Rudy for president. What exactly would Hillary do that is worse than Rudy?

  3. So the question is who are we pulling the primary lever for: Huckabee? Romney? McCain? Thompson? I have no problem voting for any of those guys in the primary. Re: McCain, that is something I've on which I've changed my mind recently.

    I won't pull for Rudy G. in the primary. But I won't vote for a clown in the general.

  4. Depends on who is left by the time they get to California. We never count in the primaries and for that matter in the general. Used to be that the Dems wrote us off not the Reps do.

    But, Huck's my favorite of the remaining. I could accept any of the rest besides RG.

  5. I used to like Romney, but that honeymoon ended when he started posturing on the illegal thing. That's one of the reasons I started to admire McCain. I know I'm in the minority among Repubs on that.

    Huckabee would be a great candidate. IMO he has much more charisma than Fred Thompson, who I could vote for as well.

    I like Brownback and Hunter, but they are really taking up space at this point. Brownback has run kind of a silly campaign attacking Romney on abortion when his traction slipped. Duncan Hunter is not really running a campaign at all -- it's half-assed. Ron Paul looks normal now that "ALAN KEYES!!" is in the race....

  6. Ron Paul is the Lyndon Larouch of the republican party. He even has the weird cultists surrounding him.

  7. My top three choices are Romney, Hunter and Thompson. Hunter's really a long shot, so it's basically Fred or Mitt. I had my reservations about Romney, especially on the question of the genuineness of his positions, but he's really impressed me during the campaign. He's sharp, has executive experience, and taken at face value, he aligns more closely with my own personal policy views than any other candidate. I'm personally not bothered by his Mormonism, but I'd be a fool to ignore that fact that it will be an issue to a large chunk of the electorate.

    I was originally enthused by Fred, but of late he seems more like the GOP version of Obama: all style and no substance. He needs to drop the, "Awww shucks, I ain't nothin' but a country bumpkin'" act and get to offering some serious proposals. Unlike Obama, he's clearly capable of it. If he can do that, he might be the best choice.

    Brownback and Huckabee are almost the total opposites of Giuliani. They're socially conservative, but it's rest of the package that's troublesome. Brownback has just been a disaster on the campaign trail. Huckabee's been great on the stump and in the debates, and he might be the most articulate of candidates. But the more I learn of his populist economic policies, the less I like of him.

    McCain has risen from being the guy I'd least like to support to being at least acceptable. I can't escape the notion that he would have been a far better CiC than Bush, and probably would have handled the Iraq war better. But he's just too damned wishy wahsy on issues that I care about, and his immigration stance was horrendous.

    In the end, it's looking like Mitt's the guy to go with, but again, I'd vote for any of them except Rudy in the general.

  8. I don't understand why people take Giuliani's presence in the race so personally. He's running for president, not king -- he'll be leader of the executive branch and the military. He's not in charge of legislating for abortion, he has said he would pick pro-life judges for the USSC. That's as good as ANY republican candidate is going to get. If he nominates pro lifers for the supreme court, it really doesn't matter what his personal feelings about abortion are. I thought women were the ones who were supposed to take things too personally?

    The guy is a phenomenal executive, he knows how to play with the rough guys. *I want that in an executive, especially now* I lived in NYC in early 1990's, and it was A PIT-- danger or at least petty crime lurked literally everywhere, and to this day I'm abnormally conscious of the whereabouts of all my belongings when I'm out and about because the experience scarred me utterly -- no one who didn't live through it will ever understand how he changed the city so dramatically and effectively.

    It really angers me that so many conservative religious are making the perfect the enemy of the good, and in so doing are ensuring that we are going to have that socialist bitch on wheels in the white house. you'll make us swallow anything so long as it preserves your ideological purity, eh? thanks much.

  9. Guliani's just Hillary in drag.

    One should never vote for any reason except because it makes him feel good. One vote never makes a difference in the outcome of an election and it's foolish to believe otherwise. With that in mind, I'm going to vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary, just because it will make me feel better. I probably won't vote at all in the main election, because that too will likely be what makes me feel better.

    Kathleen, I'm a big fan of Long Island's own neo-new wave band Nightmare of You. Good stuff.

  10. "Guliani's just Hillary in drag."

    what utter BS. Giuliani transformed a city. The only noteworthy thing Hillary Clinton did was marry a sociopath.

    "I'm going to vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary, just because it will make me feel better."


  11. I don't understand why people take Giuliani's presence in the race so personally.

    I'm not taking it personally, I'm simply objecting to the idea that I must vote for this guy in the general election

    he has said he would pick pro-life judges for the USSC.

    No he hasn't. He said he would select "strict constructionists" (a completely stupid term, but that's another matter), and such a judge, accoring to RG's own words, could rule that Roe was legit.

    no one who didn't live through it will ever understand how he changed the city so dramatically and effectively.

    I was there. I lived in New York. I worked for his administration - or at least for the city during it - and I totally admire everything he did. He remains a political hero in that regard. None of that makes up for the fact that I could not possibly support his candidacy for the president.

    It really angers me that so many conservative religious are making the perfect the enemy of the good, and in so doing are ensuring that we are going to have that socialist bitch on wheels in the white house. you'll make us swallow anything so long as it preserves so long as it preserves your ideological purity, eh? thanks much.

    It really angers me that so many so-called conservatives are supporting a non-conservative candidate when there are nine better qualified, more conservative people running for the presidency in the GOP. By continuing to support a candidate that will split a large portion of the base, you are ensuring that a socialist bitch will become President. You'll make us swallow anything so long as it preserves your stubborn insistence on supporting the most unacceptable GOP candidate to run for president in the past 30 years. Thanks much.

  12. But Paul, who is really "splitting the party"? Think about this for a second: say McCain drops out tomorrow and endorses Thompson and Brownback and Hunter call it quits next week. If enough of their supporters back Fred Thompson then suddenly he's neck-in-neck with RG.

    You can blame Rudy for not being pro-life, but if some of these vanity candidates don't vacate soon then I'd say they're the ones causing greater tension in a sense.

    Also I don't know why you say "strict constructionist" is a stupid term; I've heard people using it for years, especially in regards to Roe v. Wade. But as always, I'm ready to be educated.

  13. I compare Rudy's cryptic use of "strict constructionist" with his clear support of "choice" and I get a big fat zero for social conservatives. Like most woman know, if he's ashamed to be seen with you, he ain't gonna marry ya.

  14. I too am interested in hearing why "strict constructionist" is a stupid term.

  15. You can blame Rudy for not being pro-life, but if some of these vanity candidates don't vacate soon then I'd say they're the ones causing greater tension in a sense.

    I agree with you. Rudy's only chance at winning is for the conservative vote to be split more than three ways. Even if Hunter, Brownback, and Huckabee siphon off only, let's say, 5-10% of the vote, well, that's 5-10% less for the front-line candidates. These guys should get out, but they won't.

    As for strict constructionist - it's not the worst label in the world, it's just not accurate. Justices like Scalia and Thomas, for example, are originalists - and I'm not even going to get into the differing kinds of originalists other than to say Scalia and Thomas represent the two main strands.

    Scalia himself specifically denies being a strict constructionist in an essay titled A Matter of Intepretation, and that would serve as a good primer on his constitutional philosophy. In fact, Scalia expressly states that strict constructionism is a bad method of interpretation.

    I might have difficulty succinctly explaining why it's a bad method of interpretation other than to say it's a Jeffersonian construct, and Jefferson=bad. :)

    Okay, in all seriousness, though it sounds appealing, it's actually too strict a method of interpreting the Constitution. It's almost like biblical fundamentalism where you take the very literal meaning of the document. It doesn't allow you to interpret the document in light of changing realities.

    Originalist interpretation allows the Constitution to meet the realities of the day, while still adhering to the original design of the Constitution. It's not the same thing as treating the Constitution as a "living, breathing" document. You're still interpreting the Constitution according to the orginal intent of the Framers, or at least the original understanding of the ratifiers, but you're also allowing the Constitution to be able to meet changing circumstances.

    In the end, I understand that strict constructionism is a type of shorthand, and I know what people mean when they employ it. But at best it's an inaccuracy, and at worst a wrong-headed way to interpret the Constitution.

  16. Even if rudy adores abortion and toasts it every night at dinner, that doesn't mean he is going to implement it as national law. So who really cares how he feels about it? The only relevant question is: are the judges Rudy appoints going to be better than the judges hillary appoints? (hmmmmm.....i just can't decide ....... i am enveloped in the mists of uncertainly when i ponder that question.... hmmmmmm .... what to think? i am so clueless .......)

  17. "strict constructionist" is a term of art used in legal circles, and unless you practiced law I don't think you are equipped to say what it "means". if supreme court law clerks feel comfortable using the term then i think you should too, Scalia's academic cogitations aside.

  18. Here's a post I wrote a couple of years back that might better explain the differing interpretive schools of thought.

  19. "strict constructionist" is a term of art used in legal circles, and unless you practiced law I don't think you are equipped to say what it "means."

    Is this some sort of bizarre chickenhawk-like line of argumentation? Whatever.

  20. how is it bizarre? people don't append their use of every word with lengthy blog posts or academic articles. they could, but they don't, because life is too damn short. It's lovely you wrote that long blog post, but that doesn't make the general use of the term "strict constructionist" meaningless to everyone else.

  21. I for one don't think it's at all clear that Rudy's judges would be much, if any, better than Hillary's. (And I say that with the utmost un-sarcasm.) In just about every way, between Hillary and Rudy, I'd call it a wash. Both are pro-homo "marriage," pro-abortion, pro-gun control, big government liberals. Hardly a penny's worth of difference, much less a dime's.

    In their personal lives, of course, it is quite different; one of them married a philanderer, and the other is one.

  22. Whatever, Andy.

    "You know you got it, child, if it makes you feel good."

  23. "Whatever"-- always a convincing argument...

  24. at least as convincing as "I for one don't think it's at all clear that Rudy's judges would be much, if any, better than Hillary's. "

    whatever, indeed.

  25. Whatever is a reaction, not an argument.

    Color me thoroughly unconvinced by the (non)argument that Rudy would be just as bad as Hillary. As much as I detest his stance on abortion, he's better on the other stuff and, as Kathleen points out, would make a better executive. That's why he's so far ahead.

  26. I hope that Giuliani doesn't get the nomination...I support Thompson myself. However, if he does get it, I will not self-righteously sit home and refuse to vote for him because he doesn't pass the purity test. There are other important issues besides social issues and Giuliani is right on those issues, whereas the Democrats are grieviously wrong.

    I was reading a thread about a possible third party split by Christian conservatives the other day, and the Democrats and lefties commenting were beside themselves with joy at the prospect. They said things like, "Let the stupid Christian Taliban types split off...we'll have power for years if that happens."

    I, for one, don't want to give them the satisfaction.

  27. will not self-righteously sit home and refuse to vote for him because he doesn't pass the purity test.

    Yeah, no sanctimony here.

    Look both sides are full of self-righteousness, but it's actually a little thicker on the "GOP all the way" crowd. We're all supposed to sputter and fear for the big bad Hillary monster and just blindly pull the lever for the guy with the (R) next to his name. Sorry, but no thanks.

    Meanwhile 27% of Republicans are saying they're gonna bolt if Rudy gets the nod. That means there are as many people actively opposed to his nomination as there are those who support him. Considering a chunk of that support is people who foolishly think that Rudy is the most electable candidate on the Republican side, maybe it's time to consider the permanent damage that his nomination would do to the party.

    It's not about purity. None of these guys is perfect. Heck, I'd even vote for McCain, and believe me, there's a lot of stuff about him that I can't stand. But the perfect is not being the enemy of the good, it's the tolerable being the enenemy of the terrible.

  28. The cackle draws ever closer....

  29. The cackle draws ever closer

    If you're referencing Hillary, don't you mean cankle? :)

  30. Let me reiterate...I do not support Giuliani for President. However, if he (God forbid) were the nominee, I could not in good conscience refuse to vote for him because he's wrong on social issues when there is so much more at stake. And I'm not just talking defense or the Supreme Court, either.

    Do you want Hillary to implement her socialized health care? Do you want to give up your right to choose your own doctor? Do you want to end up on waiting lists to get medical treatment? Do you want life-saving drugs to be withheld because they are "not cost effective"? (This is certainly a "culture of life" issue.)

  31. I'm not a Republican, so I don't get a primary vote here (I am a tertiary, though), but it seems to me that Ken Blackwell is begging the question here:

    "Conservative voters must be prepared to support candidates who share their vision of a non-activist, constructionist Court, even if they disagree on some important issues. The alternative — another Clinton presidency — would be disastrous to their cause."

    If significant numbers of Republican say, "Giuliani doesn't share my vision of a non-activist, constructionist Court," a more substantial response than, "Whatever," is going to be needed if the goal really is a Republican victory in the general election.

    As always, if you want to decide what to do, you should first decide what you want done. Is the end sought "to avoid a Clinton presidency"? Is it "to effect a Giuliani presidency"? Is it "to avoid a Clinton presidency and effect a Giuliani presidency"?

    Different ends call for different means. Castigating someone for not adopting your means when they're not interested in your end is not an effective means to your end.

  32. maybe your tolerance, or lack thereof, is the bigger problem here. or do you wish to argue that your own self-righteousness has zero effect on your tolerance level?

  33. the "whatever" was in response to the statement that rudy and hillary would have an approximately equal effect on the supreme court. and "whatever" is an appropriate response -- how can one argue with someone who insists black is white without wasting too much of one's day?

  34. Susan B:

    No, I don't want any of that to happen, which is why I pray to God that RG does not get the nomination.

    Look, even if I personally somehow decide to check my principles at the door and vote for Giuliani, like it or not, at least 1/5 of regualar GOP voters will not vote for the man. That's just the reality. He is, therefore, the least electable candidate. So, let's not have to face the "what are we gonna do" question and simply select a guy who won't make 1/5 of the base split. In other words, let's not tempt fate.

  35. Let me add...all this worrying about Giuliani is probably for nothing. As Paul points out, he is too divisive to get the nomination anyway. He would have to get an awful lot of moderates who are turned off by social conservatives but don't trust the Democrats on his side. I don't see that happening.

  36. I'm actually thankful Rudy is in the race. His marriage is a turnoff and he makes mistakes (hey, that sounds familiar in a presidential candidate), but the country knows him and what he is made of because of 9/11. people are trying to take that away from him, but they can't. thinking realistically, he's the only one who has a chance against the clinton machine, since he's the only other candidate besides hillary who people feel they know. the GOP is lucky to have him.

    conservatives have to remember -- hillary is doing very well in this campaign so far. even i have forgotten some of what made me vehemently despise her not so long ago. she's taking it easy and has rehabbed her image as much as it's possible for her to do so. she is very very dangerous.

  37. "at least 1/5 of regualar GOP voters will not vote for the man. "

    I don't buy that at all.

  38. I'm always skeptical of polls, but the latest Rasmussen poll reports that 27% of GOP respondents would vote for a third party candidate. That's actually higher than what I estimate, but I have little doubt that, at a minimum, we're loking at 15% of GOP voters not voting for Giuliani, which will kill any chance he has, even if he can pull a few more independents.

    Susan B - I hope you're right.

  39. "would vote for a third party" if giuliani were the nominee? or "would vote" if superman were the third party candidate?

  40. Those of us who would desert the GOP and not vote for Rudy are just taking a page out of his book. If I recall correctly, he warmly endorsed Mr Liberal democrat "Mario Coumo" for governor of NY.

  41. I don't buy that at all.

    It's more of a bet than a non-sale, isn't it? Or maybe it's a dare, as Paul Z. suggested in the first comment.

    I get the sense that, in some Giuliani backers' payoff matrices, they're discounting the cost of a Clinton presidency with the benefit of righteous indignation at the "anybody but Giuliani" Republicans who will never vote for Giuliani.

  42. Tom, if you're passively aggressively referring to me (ever so obliquely) as a "Giuliani backer", be assured i'm no such thing. not officially and not yet, anyway. I just wish to call out blinkered self-destructiveness when i see it.

  43. SVS, NY is politically a very dysfunctional state. It "elected" Hillary senator after all (personally i think it was rigged -- truly). Any cuomo/giuliani axis no doubt centered around a long, weird history of underground state/city allegiances that any new yorker could only begin to guess at (let alone a non-new-yorker). in other words, giuliani's endorsement of cuomo can't be seen as an endorsement of cuomo's political ideology.

  44. Kathleen:

    You consider Giuliani a phenomenal executive who has the toughness you want in a president. You say he's a good candidate and mock the "ideological purity" of conservative religious who oppose him. You've triangulated his position on abortion into a net positive. You're thankful he's running, and you think the GOP is lucky to have him.

    If you're not a Giuliani backer, you should be. It would be self-desctructive of you to fail to back the only one you think has a chance against the Clinton machine.

  45. er, Tom, it's a year away from the general election, and i have plenty of time to observe other candidates and make up my mind. That said, the mere fact that Giuliani is on the scene doesn't offend me.

    and I haven't "triangulated" his position on abortion, the Constitution has. take it up with the framers, not me.