Is Washington alive to the Sound of Santorum?

Santorum after his speech walks by WhiteHouse12, will he walk into the White House?

Rick Santorum appeared on stage with his family, introducing them he said they were not the von Trapp family and they weren’t about to sing. However as he set out on his speech to offer sweet music to conservative ears, he seemed to stumble a little, the speakers version of being out of tune.

But, he did get warmed up. He hit a number of high notes:

We must trust in “the conservative vision of bottom up” and show “how Obama policies have failed” America. This is what wins the race, Santorum crooned.

But he struck a bum note when he said we are not going to win this election with the candidate with the most money to beat up his opponent. Who could he possibly mean?

A sweeter note was sounded when he explained how liberals use sentimental ideas of stewardship to advance radical environmental policies.

Then onto a higher set of notes, when he reminded delegates that our rights come from a higher authority than the government. He was as clear as a bell when he chimed in that he is in this race because Obamacare is a game changer.

Rick Santorum was introduced as the only chance of winning in November as a fresh face, but there was little fresh material in this show.

Karen Santorum makes plans to let Rick go to exhibit hall, will she be making plans to change the White House decor?

That said he ended on a high note with “You are blessed to live in a time when America needs you”. He called on delegates to live in honor, ending with “The ‘how’ we are of America is the Constitution, the ‘who’ we are of America is the Declaration.”

To those who support Santorum, this speech will have been music to their ears. Whether he can light up the election with the sound of his brand of music remains to be seen.

 

 

 

A Populist CPAC, but where are the ideas?

Bookmark and Share Meeting Donald Rumsfeld today, the man who knows his knowns from his unknowns, he saw my media badge saying WhiteHouse12 and asked me “You’re from the White House?” I explained I was not, and we are a website covering the election, but I can’t be sure whether he was disappointed or not.

Being an election year, you would expect CPAC 2012 to be a populist fest of election themes, peppered with attacks on the Obama administration, and today’s line-up did not disappoint on that front. The worrying thing is that the slate of speakers, while inspiring the crowd, did not have ideas to inspire the folks with outside the conference hall. The speakers were long on broad principles but short on specifics.

CPAC 2012 Kicked off with a populist energy, but are speakers offering enough?

Marco Rubio got the crowd all whipped up, ready to be severely unwhipped by a windbag speech from Mitch McConnell. The House Senate Majority leader did the math well when he said that if you lose your job in the Obama economy it will take you 40 weeks to find a new one. However, his math failed him when he exceeded his 10 minute slot by some 20 minutes. Some disciplined editing down to 10 minutes would have given him a better speech. When he got a cheer at the end I couldn’t work out whether it was for his message or the fact that he had finished.

The schedule ran 30 minutes late for the rest of the day, and Michele Bachmann followed. Her speech was probably the most detailed of the day, focused on the series of foreign policy failures by the Obama administration. The former candidate launched a sustained attack on the policy failures, and blasted the president for not backing Mubarak, saying “Obama failed to stand by Mubarak and that helped fuel the revolution in Egypt … The president spurned the President of Egypt when he took his first foreign trip to Cairo. In an absolutely shocking move, he invited the Muslim Brotherhood to hear his speech when Mubarak’s policy was to keep the Brotherhood at arm’s length.”

Bachmann attacked the president for not standing by Israel, “Before Obama was elected, no one had ever heard of a United States president saying to the world that the United States is not a judeo-christian nation.  I am here to say we are.” She concluded “The president’s foreign policy does change the history of the world, which is why Barack Obama cannot have a second term as president.”

Rick Perry got the crowd going as well, focusing on the economy he said “Success on Wall Street shouldn’t come at the expense of Main Street.” With the crash on the way, Perry said “Folks on Wall Street who saw it coming, they made millions; folks who didn’t see it coming, they got bailed out.” His parting shot was intended to strike an ominous note, saying “I’m fearful of what the score’s gonna be if we let the president start the second half as a quarterback.”

More populist notes were struck by Herman Cain, who told CPAC “A lot of people thought that after the character assassination that was launched against me that Herman was going to shut up and sit down and go away… Ain’t going to happen.” On his 9-9-9 plan, Cain told conservatives to press candidates for federal office to embrace his flat-tax solution before they are elected. He also invited “Joe The Plumber” Samuel Wurzelbacher, who is running for Congress in Ohio’s 9th District, to take a bow.

None of the main speakers offered endorsement messages for the 2012 GOP nominees, preferring instead to talk more generically about the need to stop a second Obama term. A late addition to the speaker slate was Rand Paul who arguably matched, perhaps exceeded, the rapturous applause received by Cain. Paul asked if the President hated rich people and poor people with jobs, but then went on to state “The president doesn’t really hate all rich people, just those who don’t contribute to his campaign.” He then rallied “If you’re a crony, if you’re a buddy, just stop by the White House.”

Paul rightly reminded attendees of Ronald Regan’s “optimism,” a president who he said “turned a whole generation of Democrats into Republicans.” His parting shot was “Who will be that next Ronald Reagan?” This gets to the heart of what folks are feeling, which ran though this whole first day, feeling the need for inspiration, the need for a positive approach, the need for American exceptionalism.

What was lacking was any real depth to the conservative messages today, and it will take more than the invocation of the name of Ronald Reagan and repeating the wrongs of the incumbent to put a conservative into the White House. Reagan brought more than sunny optimism to the White House, he brought some strong and deep ideas on the economy and foreign policy as well. I didn’t hear the equivalent depth of ideas today.

Tomorrow will see Gingrich, Romney and Santorum take the stage, but will they bring any more than today’s speakers? I may not know the knowns or unknowns of what tomorrow holds, but I know I won’t be holding my breath.

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Politics IS a Contact Sport

Newt hopes to land knock-out punch with attack ads, but is Mitt's mitt bigger and stronger?

So, Newt has launched an attack ad on Mitt, and no doubt the Democrats are watching with glee.  There are no doubt worries that attack ads damage the Republican Party, just as many worry that American politics is too divisive. Does all the “infighting” damage Republican chances?

Well, no.

Attack ads are part of politics. Politics is divisive. This is because folks disagree, and they rightly disagree on important points of principle and policy. Of course the candidates attack each other, and why not? The prize is big; these are passionate people who feel they deserve a run at the number 1 job on the planet. Otherwise, they might as well play paper and scissors for the right to run.

Cast your mind back to 2008, and the exchange of “shame” accusations by candidates Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.

You can see her attack here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pPV1yd7sQg&feature=share and Obama’s response here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkR9kw81Cx8&feature=share. You can also see the Obama attack ad, comparing Hilary Clinton to Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h3G-lMZxjo, which is quite a laugh given that Democrats are the Orwellian nightmare party!

Both parties share the tactics of attack, and it goes a long way back. Hilary’s barb that Obama was following Karl Rove’s playbook was foolishness; it doesn’t take a village to work out that attacking the candidate, or in soccer parlance playing the man rather than the ball, goes back a lot further than Rove.

In fact, the earliest example of attack ads was launched by Lyndon B Johnson in 1964, in his attack on Barry Goldwater. Known as the “Daisy Spot”, it showed an innocent girl picking daisies followed by a countdown to nuclear catastrophe, which shocked audiences at the time. The idea was that Goldwater’s aggressive stance on the Cold War would lead to nuclear destruction. [You can view the ad here: http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/johnson/media/daisyspot/]This will be the same Johnson who thought escalating Vietnam was a good idea.

Hilary and Obama attacked each other without pulling their punches. She lost, Obama won, and despite all the punches Hilary laid on Obama he won the White House. Like Hilary’s husband said in 2008, “This is a contact sport, politics. You can’t complain about being attacked. It’s like Yao Ming complaining about being fouled playing basketball.”

The narrative that the attack by candidates is damaging is simply a way of attacking the Republicans, while President Obama as incumbent and the official nominee come September can stand serenely above the action and appear, well, presidential. That is, until his Republican opponent is selected and can turn his attention to attacking Obama’s record 100%.

For this reason ending the attacks is important, we need to see the main bout start. The chief result of Newt’s attacks on Mitt is to bring Mitt onto the canvas ready to land his punches. Newt’s attack ads are the last attempts to land some body blows on Mitt, but Mitt’s mitt appears to be the bigger and stronger of the two. Once the attacks are done, the choice is made, the Republican nominee can step onto the canvas and win the prize fight that will take him to the White House.

Bill Clinton was right, this is a contact sport. He was wrong to compare it to basketball though. This is a fight, and it is a fight to the end. Unlike Johnson’s Daisy ad the countdown is not to nuclear destruction, but losing to Obama will see more destruction of the American economy and the nation.

President Obama: a liberal Wolf in conservative Sheep’s clothing

Bookmark and Share     The metaphor works well, and many liberals see it as the perfect strategy, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

First, there are many concerned liberals who think President Obama is making a conservative-leaning deficit deal, and they are frustrated by what they believe is his conservative-leaning deficit strategy.

The examples they cite are that the White House did not try to tie a debt ceiling vote to the extension of the Bush tax cuts last December, conceded linking any increase in the ceiling to spending cuts, and whenever Republicans dug in their heels President Obama gave ground.

Some liberals are not so worried about this, they think President Obama has a cunning plan, and is giving ground as part of his grand strategy. While Republicans are using the debt ceiling to force bigger spending cuts, President Obama is getting Democrats used to the idea of bigger spending cuts than they would like.

“Cunning, yes?” They say.

They also say, with a more conservative looking deal at the end, President Obama will come out looking good to voters and this will boost his chances of  re-election.

This is Obama, the conservative in sheep’s clothing.

However, inside lurks a Wolf.

On the other side of the 2012 election are the Tax increases much loved by liberals.

The strategy is that President Obama is making concessions because he knows taxes are scheduled to increase when the Bush-era tax rates expire… just after the election.  Whatever deal the Republicans strike by August 2nd will have a sting in the tail.

Are you ready for this?

The New York Times accuses the Republicans of being ideologues, and, of course, President Obama is determined. Why is it that whenever conservatives dig their heels in they are being ideological, but when a liberal does it is a determined effort?

The Republicans need to stand strong on the economy, and it provides a moment for one of the 2012 candidates to come out to champion the economy. Whoever does will have a shot of winning in 2012. However, if the winning candidate has not taken the main chance then in November 2012 they will be conceding to a second term President Obama on the eve of tax hikes they have no control over.

Then we will see who the ideologue is, because President Obama can finally stop campaigning and seek to do what his ideals dictate.

Are you ready for that?

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Three Simple Steps to Solve America’s Debt, but one Giant Leap for the Nation’s Politicians

Nostalgia or integral to the future?

Bookmark and Share   There are three simple steps required to get America working at its best again, but they will require a giant leap in faith by politicians. The final space shuttle launch is perhaps a metaphor for where America is today. America has been travelling the European road towards secularism and dependency in recent years. This journey was not embarked upon by President Barack Obama, though he has hastened the journey’s end greatly.

This European road is one where the apparatus of State is the repository of morality, rules and decisions. This leaves its civil dependents free not to care, because the State cares for society’s ills, it is somebody else’s problem. This is the selfishness of liberalism, it leads to abdicating personal responsibility for the community and leaving the State to deal with it and legislate.

Morality becomes defined by what the rules say you can and cannot do. The responsible individual is therefore one who keeps to the rules, which are increasingly defined by a remote governing and law-making process. The liberals who drive these new rules don’t care about the Poor, or Race or all the other things they pontificate on so eloquently. They are only interested in the IDEA of the Poor, Race and other classes who live far from their zip codes. They can have the best of both worlds: live their own nice life free of any conscience because they care about classes.

The outcome of this is moral malaise, economic stagnation and ever growing cost of government. Sound familiar? Look around you, do you see the evidence?

This mentality has to change, and it is a big ask. It is a giant leap. What is needed is not just a change of leader, but a change in attitude in America. This needs to be a mixture of commitment to the faith and enlightenment ideals which founded America, and, a commitment to applying these ideals to making a better tomorrow.

Liberals like to dismiss all the talk of the Constitution and Founding Fathers by the Tea Party and Conservatives as being at best nostalgic and at worse backwards. It is not. It is integral to understanding the solution to America’s current ills.

So, what about the three steps? They are:

Step 1: Repent and Pray, and remember what the American Ideal means

Step 2: Focus on growing the economy

Step 3: Cut Government deep

The first step:

The hubris of government is rooted in the Enlightenment without God, something the Founding Fathers never intended. The negative proposition of the Founding is that we only progress knowing that we are answerable to a higher order, to God the Creator. This is because of the Fallen nature of humanity. The positive proposition of the Founding is that we progress because God fills us with Hope. This is the uniqueness of the American ideal, which is an ideal for all humanity not just Americans.

Hence, we repent because of our weakness and we pray because of the Hope that God inspires within us to innovate, create for ourselves and community, and to help each other: family, friends and community. The obsession with “human rights” is a denial of this combination of weakness and hope, placing confidence in regulation and courts. Instead of court being the outcome of wrongs, it becomes the starting point of establishing “rights.” The starting point should be God and individuals caring for each other, placing confidence in God to guide us.

The second step:

All the talk about cuts, deficits and taxes is placing the emphasis in the all the wrong places. They are of a secondary order, not just in this list of three steps but in the economic approach now needed. The economy thrives on confidence and energy. Both have been sapped in recent years. During the last presidential campaign, candidate Obama talked up the doom and gloom of the economy, resulting in companies taking more drastic actions they would have ordinarily. Had 2008 not been an election year, the economy would still have entered a recessionary cycle but it would not have been as deep as it has been. Of course, the candidate figured that as President he would be the economy’s savior. How wrong he was!

There is a need to cut government, not just to save money but to stop the dependency and return people to a focus on economic growth. This means people being entrepreneurial, realizing the economy is not a fixed pie to be shared out by government. When you’re short of pie, you bake some more! This means people out of work looking for ideas and opportunities, and for those in work they need to innovate their businesses and take the right kind of risks to generate new business. In short, individuals and businesses need to dig deep to solve problems.

This also means a consumption that is not just consumerism and speculation, but also investment in self and family. The disposable society figured we could dispose of responsibility as well. The great lesson of this recession is that far too many people and organizations had built their economic well-being on shifting sands.

The Third Step:

The 2012 candidates have to be prepared to address voters in a call to taking back responsibility from government. When people say “We want our country back” they should be saying they want to take responsibility back. Governments do not fix economies; they only tax entrepreneurial energy and dollars.
Government has an important role as servant of society, but it makes a very poor master.

These are the small steps, but for politicians they are a Giant Leap. These are not popular suggestions, I know. They do not satisfy human selfishness. Adam Smith, that great Scottish enlightenment figure, distinguished between selfishness and self-interest. It is self-interest which is the motor of the economy, and candidates need to take a giant leap to explain and inspire people as to what is in their self-interest and in the self-interest of America.

Only then will this economy grow at the rate it needs to and to sustain America. The nation needs to raise up a leader who can lead from the heart, not just their own heart but the beating heart of America, and this starts by reminding the American voters of the Soul of America.

Let’s start with Step One. Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” This is the campaign slogan America needs right now. The current debate is not about the economy. The economy is not the driver of things to be, that is Socialist philosophy. The economy is the reflection of things that are, and right now the economy is reflecting the struggle for the soul of America.

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All the World’s a Stage: Debt will not exit Left or Right

President Obama: Upstage or Upstaged?

Bookmark and Share    You know you’re in trouble when Warren Buffet comes out of the woodwork to offer a plan. And, you know you’re in bigger trouble when you kind of agree with him. Buffet’s plan is this: “I could end the deficit in five minutes. You just pass a law that says that any time there’s a deficit of more than three percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.” Buffet says he was only half joking, but it may be recorded as one of his more sensible observations.

The reality is that the debt talks are theater pure and simple.

Look at the backdrop: We are in a new presidential election cycle, which complicates matters. Then look at President Obama taking center stage. Maybe a reason why the Leftists are going so negative on Obama here is that even they recognize a guy wanting to keep the lead role, sorry running for election, when they see one.

Entering Stage Left is his most trenchant critic Paul Krugman, writing reviews that he hopes will close this show, but he has difficulty closing a toilet seat at the best of times. He says, “let’s be frank. It’s getting harder and harder to trust Mr. Obama’s motives in the budget fight, given the way his economic rhetoric has veered to the right. In fact, if all you did was listen to his speeches, you might conclude that he basically shares the GOP’s diagnosis of what ails our economy and what should be done to fix it. And maybe that’s not a false impression; maybe it’s the simple truth.” Yes, Mr. Krugman it is the simple truth.

However, theater is about fantasy so let’s move to the next Scene.

President Obama says “Government has to start living within its means, just like families do. We have to cut the spending we can’t afford so we can put the economy on sounder footing, and give our businesses the confidence they need to grow and create jobs.” Krugman says this is conservative ideology, since government should not budget like families, and argues businesses aren’t holding back because they lack confidence in government policies; they’re holding back because they don’t have enough customers. There’s a reason for that Mr. Krugman at a time when the economy is actually growing, it’s called confidence and politicians are knocking the stuffing out of the economy in a staged fight.

So let’s go to the next Act, and the dramatic scene featuring the President addressing the audience directly.

Obama says the debt ceiling should not “be used as a gun against the heads” of Americans to retain breaks for corporate jet owners or oil and gas companies, using some of his most direct dialog to date. He wants to reduce the deficit, in part, through new tax revenue raised by closing loopholes and tax subsidies. Beneath the rhetoric to the audience, however, is a soliloquy to the Democrats of good old fashioned class warfare.

So, entering stage Right, the Republicans oppose measures that raise taxes, demanding steep reductions in the US budget deficit as the price of a debt increase. Leftist rag The Nation (I refer you to the earlier point of Krugman closing the toilet seat), says, “Republicans have been negotiating in bad faith, unwilling to compromise even an inch on their extremist and absolutist positions. Some are no longer willing to come to the table at all.” Leftists sing a chorus that the Republican Party is threatening to default on the nation’s debt and this will sabotage the global economy on the basis of narrow ideological goals. A new verse is being added as you read this, namely that the President should invoke Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which says that “the validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.”

Democrats and Republicans remain “far apart on a wide range of issues,” Obama, said wringing his hands as he adjusted his teleprompter prop. “Everyone acknowledged that we have to get this done before the hard deadline of Aug. 2 to make sure America does not default for the first time on its obligations. And everybody acknowledged that there’s going to be pain involved politically on all sides.”

Meanwhile, the Opening Night of this show, August 2, is fast approaching and the cast are still fluffing their lines over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

At Thursday’s rehearsal, all the lead cast turned up and “All the leaders came here in a spirit of compromise and of wanting to solve problems on behalf of the American people.” So, it will be alright on the night! President Obama hopes Sunday’s dress rehearsal will pave the way for the “hard bargaining” necessary for a deal, because “Everybody acknowledges that there’s going to be pain involved politically on all sides,” he said. And, the chorus joined in with a handful of officials on both sides of the aisle indicating they are ready to give ground.

With all this improvisation, let’s just remind ourselves of the script: •Public debt was $14.3 trillion on 31 May, up from $10.6 trillion when Obama took office in January 2009 •Congress has voted to raise the US debt limit 10 times since 2001 •The largest expenditures of the projected $135 Billion deficit include: $80.9 Billion on Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, $72.9 Billion on government agency expenses, $31.7 Billion on Defense, and $29.0 Billion on Interest on Treasury securities.

In the show Chorus Line, the opening song ends with the lines:

Who am I anyway?

 Am I my resume?

 That is a picture of a person I don’t know.

 What does he want from me?

What should I try to be?

So many faces all around, and here we go.

 I need this job, oh God, I need this show.

Yeah, the show must go on Mr. President…it’s time for your close up.

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The Daily Tweet

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White House 2012’s favorite Tweet for the day comes from Professor Larry J. Sabato, one of the best, if not the best political analysits in the field…..

“We have to cover Trump because he’s moving up in the polls!” Um, he’s moving up because you’re covering him so much

We love the fact that Sabato had the sense to point out that one of the reasons for Trump’s recent popularity was the non-stop coverage that the fawning media is giving him and not neccessarily his slef described superior leadership and peoples skills

But today’s Tweet of the Day was a tossup. Larry Sabato had another good one that was in contention:

I love Larry Sabato. He is always perfect, if not nearly perfect, in his assessments.

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