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.

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Time to Stand

Bookmark and Share    One of the greatest problems plaguing the political scene is cowardice. More particularly it is ideological cowardice. It is an admitted fact that candidates run to the fringe during primaries and then run to the center for the general election. That is considered good politics. Unfortunately, it makes for bad government.

The level of disgust with our elected government is astonishing. If it were just political partisanship, we could expect that approval ratings would be somewhere around 50%. Yet that is not the case. Approval ratings have dropped into the single digits numerous times for Congress and into the 30s for Presidents. Clearly the people are disappointed even in their own party’s elected officials.

The reason is simple. Politicians are cowards. They are for something one second and against it the next. Recently we’ve seen an uptick in the “I’m for it, but not for how it is being done” or “These are special circumstances that require measures I wouldn’t normally support.” They are two different ways of saying, “I don’t want to look like a flip-flopper but I want to be on the side of political expediency.” It is as if almost our entire elected government has become filled with Arlen Specter clones.

It is difficult to find a candidate that you can really believe will do what he or she claims. It is difficult to find a candidate that consistently speaks from an ideological foundation that is firm. The one thing all our “greatest” Presidents had in common was their willingness to stick to their principles and govern as they promised. Granted there were some Presidents who were equally consistent and failed, but at least the people knew what they were getting and they could decide whether or not to support those men. Today we treat ‘political conversion’ or ‘position adjustment’ as some sort of normal behavior.

Let’s look at this from another perspective. Is it normal to convert from Catholicism to Islam and then again to Lutheran? Such a thing would be considered absurd. But how are ‘political conversions’ any different? Sure, decades ago someone might go from Democrat to Republican because the parties themselves were transformed – BUT the reason for the change in party affiliation was based on a desire to be in the party that represented that person’s UNCHANGED positions on issues. Such changes are more like a member of the Episcopal Church becoming a Lutheran because that person did not support changes in the Episcopal Church doctrine (such as ordaining gay clergy). The person’s beliefs never changed, but the group to which he belonged changed in a way that was incompatible with those beliefs. That is not what is happening in politics today.

What we have today are people who are claiming to have changed their beliefs or to have found exceptions to their beliefs. That’s like a man saying he’s straight, but another guy at the gym was unusually attractive and in that extraordinary circumstance it made sense to have gay sex. Be it abortion or government bailouts or foreign affairs, it seems that ‘anything goes’ is the new normal. Whatever the political winds of that day happen to be, so too are that candidate’s “convictions”. It is disgraceful.

What will a candidate do if elected? Who knows? Maybe their record will shed some light on that and maybe it won’t. Maybe their previous positions will shed some light on that and maybe they won’t. It all depends on which parts of those they agree with today and which ones they see as ‘mistakes I’ve learned from’. Of course, today’s convictions may be tomorrow’s ‘mistakes I learned from’.

These ideological void candidates are not the only problem. We, the people, are equally to blame. We are cowards ourselves when we fear our beliefs might bring us criticism. We allow critics of our beliefs to bully us into silence about them rather than be labeled ‘extremists’. We end up supporting a candidate based not on what they truly believe and whether that matches our beliefs, but rather on who we dislike least of those ‘who can win’. We sell ourselves out first and then are upset when the person we supported does the same thing. We feel betrayed that the candidate that didn’t really share our views governs in a way that is contrary to our views instead of in the way promised during a campaign.

I have been one of those cowards this year. I have strong ideological beliefs. Yet, I refused to support the candidate that most reflects those views because I didn’t think he could win. I bought into the lie that we should support the one who can win over the one who is right. I took the side of those who refused to support Goldwater in ’64 and Reagan in ’76. I tried, in vain, to find another candidate who could serve as a ‘good enough’ choice and that ‘could win’ according to the pundits. I was an ideological coward.

Today that changes. Today I set aside my indecision between candidates I don’t really agree with who pundits say can win and throw my support behind the candidate with whom I am in the most ideological agreement. Maybe he can’t win the nomination. If he doesn’t, then I’ll support who does as any of them are better than Obama. But, this is my vote. This is my party. This is my ideology.

My endorsement for the 2012 Republican Nomination goes to Congressman Ron Paul.
Congressman Ron Paul

I fully recognize Ron Paul’s limitations. He has never been a chief executive. He’s not supported by the leadership of his party. He’s not a great speaker. His foreign policy scares the establishment. All those things were said about Barry Goldwater in 1964 but history proved that he would have been far better than what we got. His campaign sparked a movement that eventually brought us Ronald Reagan and the Republican Revolution of 1994.

We live in a different world than in the days of Reagan. An evil empire is not our chief concern and primary security risk. Today we face isolated terrorist cells around the world and the threat of economic destruction through control of energy, currency manipulation and cyber attack. Our national debt is greater than our GDP and our economy is built upon pushing money around more than actually creating anything of real value. Our entitlement system has grown so precariously huge that it threatens to bankrupt us within the foreseeable future.

There is only one candidate who sees that these issues are the greatest threats facing us. There is only one candidate who will use the power of the Presidency to force real cuts in spending and not just in the rate of spending growth. There is only one candidate who will rethink the old Cold War era military thinking and re-position us for responding to the threats of the 21st century. There is only one candidate who has been ideologically consistent for decades and who has correctly predicted the problems we are faced with today. There is only one candidate who won’t be corrupted by polls or pundits or lobbyists. There is only one candidate who believes more in governing within the confines of the Constitution than in finding excuses to circumvent it. There is only one candidate who put his life on the line for his country. There is only one candidate for me.

That candidate is Ron Paul and he has my endorsement and support.

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What Is Best for the G.O.P. and More Importantly, the Nation?

Bookmark and Share    Several months ago, President Obama had announced the execution of Osama bin Laden, and a debt weary nation seemed to be hopeful that our economy was on the verge of coming back. Some were beginning to believe that President Obama was shaping up to be another unbeatable incumbent come election time.

Since then, things have changed dramatically. All the economic indicators that were expected to produce numbers indicating a turnaround for the economy, have consistently underperformed all reaosnable measures of a healthy economy. An ongoing military effort in the mottled mission of Libya continues, the largest number of casualties in a single day of our longest war in history have been seen, Middle East strife in Syria as well as Egypt weigh heavily on international affairs, the quadrupling of our debt has forced our credit rating to be downgraded, the stock market is dropping to a point of being declared a bear market, gas prices have soared, unemployment remains more than a percentage point above the 8 % that President Obama promised it would never rise above, talk of a double-dip recession is remerging, and in general, no one is happy.

So now suddenly President Obama is again looking like a Jimmy Carter, one-termer …….a President who instills no confidence in the people, the markets, the economy or anything else. A President who lacks leadership and is controlled by circumstances far more than they controls circumstances.

But as quickly as things went from good to bad for President Obama, they could again change from bad to good. That is the nature of politics. But for Republicans, which condition is best for them to confront the President in during the 2012 election?

Are Republicans better off facing a President Obama who is severely wounded and hanging on to the doorknob of the Oval Office by his fingertips? Or a President Obama who has some clear positive results to hang his hat on? The answer may seem obvious but it is not.

When voters, particularly Republicans, are facing an incumbent President who is serving in times of great dissatisfaction, they often tend to go to extremes and produce a nominee  that is at the total opposite end of the Democrat incumbent President’s  ideology. In other words, they tend to nominate an extremely conservative presidential candidate. The best and most recent examples can be found in the 1964 and 1980 presidential elections.

In ’64 a troubled nation that was in the midst of riots and war protests and was embrking on the expansion of the welfare state, nominated Barry Goldwater to run against incumbent Lyndon Johnson. Goldwater lost big. But one must also consider the fact that in that election, Johnson was representing the legacy of a martyred President who was abruptly taken away from us by an assassins bullet. Nonetheless, political dissatisfaction did force Republicans to nominate an extremely conservative candidate who was as contrarian to Lyndon Johnson as possible.

In 1980, again a weary nation faced foreign strife that held Americans hostage, was in the midst of an energy crisis and had a crumbling economy with double digit unemployment and extremely high inflation (but as bad as it was, we still didn’t see our credit rating downgraded). In that election, Republican voters turned to Ronald Reagan, probably the most conservative voice of the day. That year Reagan won.

Depending on how bad things are in the nation under a President of one ideology, the futher to the opposite end of the ideological spectrum they go in the oppsoition leader they seek. So if President Obama remains critically wounded, does that mean the G.O.P. will nominate the most conservative candidate running? Will it turn to Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry or draw Sarah Palin into the contest and nominate her? If President Obama’s approval and the economy stabilizes, will Republicans nominate a more seemingly moderate voice like Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty?

And of those two scenarios, which is better?

Is the G.O.P. better off nominating a candidate that is perceived as an extremist? Will such a conservative be able to defeat even a severely damaged President Obama? Or is the Party better off nominating a moderate voice and hope that the dissatisfaction with President Obama is so high that voters will still flock to ABO…… Anyone But Obama?

I do not have the definitive answer to those questions.  Given the infinitessimal number of factors that play a role in any given election and the endless number of different logisitcs between one election and another, I am not sure anyone can have a definitive answer to those questions.   But I  have a feeling about them. I believe that Barack Obama’s presidency has been so far to the left that in the minds of most Americans, it has highlighted an abundant degree of liberal thinking that is so antithetical to American democratic principles that people are willing to lurch quickly and sharply to the right in an attempt to take corrective measures that get the nation back on track and restore balance. Perhaps that is why many voters are still waiting for a voice that seems to be more conservative than the ones that are currently in the race.  It is certainly why Republicans regained control of the House in 2010.

How this dynamic will play itself out  is uncertain. That is what elections are for. If we knew who would win, we would forgo the process and save ourselves a lot of time and money. But in the interim, each of the most viable Republican candidates for President are seeking to prove themselves to be more conservative than the next.   That leaves the last question which is, can a nominee be too conservative?  Under the current TEA movement atmosphere, one can be too socially conservative but they can’t be too fiscally conservative. And there in lies the moderation that is key to winning the general election.

No matter what,  moderation of some sort is required to win the general election. For the most part, the independent voter does not want an ideological animal for President, they want a person with good  judgement and while ideology is important, it is not desired by them in extremes.  Richard Nixon’s saying is true. In the Republican primary you run far to right but in the general election you run to the middle. From the way things look right now, the G.O.P. candidate won’t have to run very far to the middle to beat President Obama, but for the sake of our nation, the G.O.P. must prevent President Obama from winning reelection. I believe the key to being successful at that lies within a G.O.P. that will be conservative enough to respect the Constitution.  That means they will stay out of our bedrooms, respect states rights, support a limited federal government, stand up for a strong national defense, and push for a government of less spending and more liberty.

That is easier said than done, but if the message is articulated right, American voters will be willing to give that messenger a chance and leave President Obama behind.

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The 2012 Election Must Be Used to Reestablish the GOP as the Party of Ideas

Bookmark and Share Once the dust has settled and the final field of Republican presidential candidates has emerged, the Republican Party will have the opportunity to capture the nations political attention for anywhere from a good three or four months. The fact that President Obama is unlikely to face any significant challenge to the Democrat Partys presidential nomination in 2012, will to a large degree, give Republicans the stage to themselves. That opportunity is too precious to not take advantage of in significant ways. But for the G.O.P. to make the most of this opportunity, they must be unconventional. Instead of using the long nomination process that Democrats will not be experiencing, to simply have the candidates attend a string of conventional debates, Republicans need to transform those debates into forums that allow the nation to participate in a national discussion of ideas and reforms.

Little more than three decades ago, New York Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously declared that the G.O.P. had become the Party of ideas. He was correct. Since the early 1960s a growing segment of dissatisfied Republicans were beginning to coalesce around a group of core beliefs..limited government, less taxes, the defense of traditional values and the sanctity of the U.S. Constitution. At a surprisingly early stage in the development of this Republican coalition, they succeeded in dominating the thinking of the G.O.P. by successfully orchestrating the presidential nomination of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. In November of 64, President Lyndon Johnsons landslide defeat of Goldwater could have been the end of the beginning for the modern conservative movement. But it was not. Part of the reason for that was Johnsons implementation of liberal extremism with Great Society, big government programs. These acts of government overreach only helped to fuel the energy of the novice Goldwater conservatives. And from then on and into the 1980s, figures like Ohio Congressman John Ashbrook, activists F. Clifton White, William A. Rusher, and many others including later in the game, New York Congressman Jack F. Kemp, fueled the emerging conservative movement with an injection of strong anti-communist postures, a belief in American superiority, and reforms which ranged from the limiting of the federal governments powers, to basing the prosperity of individuals on a tax system that took less but afforded more opportunity through free markets.

By the time Senator Moynihan came to his conclusion about the Republican Party being the Party of ideas, former California Governor Reagan had brought these ideas to the legislative steps of Washington and the conservative movement which was brutally defeated in its first national contest, became the status quo and the modern conservative movement. But thirty years later, that same conservative wave can no longer be considered modern if it runs on the same old ideas. That is why it is time for the contemporary conservative dominated Republican Party to modernize and rejuvenate itself.

For the most part, many of the concepts that were once considered new conservative ideas, have been applied with so much success, that today they have become principles that are taken for granted and even agreed upon by Democrats. So when it comes to things such as the belief that lower taxes empower the people and strengthens our economy, these principles need not be turned away from. Rather they need to be built upon. The success of ideas based on conservative principles, such as Jack Kemps creation of Urban Enterprise Zones, must be expanded upon and applied in new ways to new areas of life in America. The conservative belief that over taxing the rich does not help the poor must be turned in to a coherent policy that is derived through a new innovative tax system. The principle of school choice must finally go from the conceptual stage on some federal drawing board and turned into a legitimate, realistically applied path for states to take advantage of.

By turning his ideas into actual legislative action, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, has set us on the right road with his economic Path to Prosperity. It offers the American people a forceful legislative alternative to the failing application of big government programs. Through a wealth of reform minded ideas, Ryans plan goes beyond rhetorical vision and provides us with substantive options for the way we govern.

Ryans example needs to be followed by all those who are running in the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination.

The rejuvenation of the G.O.P. and its ability to continue to be the Party of ideas, can not occur through the use of the normal format that has come to typify todays modern presidential debates. Such forums only allow for the type of simplistic, tabloid soundbites that merely serve to echo some sort of shallow, pseudo-populism. Instead, the G.O.P. needs to recapture the inspirational intellectualism of innovative ideas that it had prior to the mid 1980s. And one of the fastest ways to begin this process, or at least create this impression, is for our candidates to come forward with more than just issue positions but precise programs.

The time has come for our Party to move the government reform discussions of the last three decades to the launching pad. Let us take talk about true tax reform and take it from the drawing board to the Presidents desk. Instead of talk about tinkering with the existing, arcane, tax code by lowering tax rates for all or just for some, let us present plans to scrap it and adopt a new, and fair tax code that is equitable and related to economic growth and greater opportunity. On this front, Herman Cain has taken the lead. Although I disagree with his particular suggestion of a national sales tax, I give him credit for coming forward with the fortitude and courage to approach an old issue in a new way, and to create a debate that as the Party of ideas, the G.O.P. needs to be in the forefront of.

This lead should be followed by the likes of Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich and others like Mitch Daniels and Sarah Palin, if they too enter the race. But beyond the need for the individual candidates to utilize the political center stage that the G.O.P.s 2012 nomination contest will provide them with, the time should also be used to specifically devote time to the driving conservative convictions that are at the heart of the G.O.P.. It would behoove conservatives to take advantage of the national election process by a string of debates that are sponsored in conjunction with, or directly by, the Republican National Committee. These prime time events should be designed to give the Republican candidates an opportunity to prove their understanding and conviction to our core conservative beliefs.

In addition to the usual debates, let there be four debates specifically designed to discuss the issues of:

  1. Limited Government and lower taxation
  2. Peace Through Strength
  3. Freedom and Personal Responsibility, and
  4. The American Free Market

Such debates can help articulate and define the message that is behind conservatism and demonstrate the type of intellectual seriousness that can inspire many just as it did during the early days of the movements evolution. These forums can take those who up to now, have had only the most abstract and detached understanding of what conservative thinking represents and promote a better understanding for the reasoning behind Republican thinking. Such forums will also give true conservatives the opportunity to get a feel for which Republican candidate has the best and most sincere understanding of conservatism.

Elections are only as valuable as the candidates involved in them, make them. For Republicans, the process to nominate our standard bearer could and should be used by the presidential candidates to do more than promote themselves. It should be used to advance the conservative thinking that they are suppose to be representative of. If they are willing to do that in a contest of ideas rather than just soem stump speech-like recitation of policy positions, and during a discussion of the future role of conservatism in America, then and only then will this election be profound enough to effect not only the next four years, but the next few generations.

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Draft (fill in name here) for President

Bookmark and ShareAs the Republican presidentialcontest begins to sort out who is running and who isnt running, public anxiety over who can actually be a viable candidate to run against President Obama, mounts. At the moment, there is a great deal of chatter about how the G.O.P. has no one who can mount a credible challenge to President Obama in 2012. Such an assertion is ludicrous, but natural. Without any single name to naturally gravitate towards as the logical leader and face of the opposition to the President, it is easy to believe that misconception. But it is important to remember that recent history shows us that the existence of an undeniably obvious nominee for the Party opposing an incumbent President is rare.

While there are always names that may seem to have the inside track for the nomination, at this early stage in the game, you usually do not have a name that is the clear frontrunner and logical candidate to lineup behind.That’s the case for republicans right now.And it is that sentiment which has forced many who are opposed to a second term for President Obama,to goon the hunt for the perfect candidate. Such pre-primary activity is a natural manifestation of the desire to insure that the incumbent President is not reelected. History has been laced with efforts to draft popular figures to run for the Oval Office.

Perhaps the most famous and one of the only truly successful draft efforts in American electoral history was that of General Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. That effort actually began in 1948 when Democrats believed that President Harry S. Truman had no chance of getting elected. An active duty General, Ike had believed in being non-partisan when it came to politics, so for Democrats, having him carry their mantle was quite possible. And when it seemed as though Republicans might nominate General Douglas MacArthur as their candidate for President, Harry Truman himself offered to run as Eisenhowers vice presidential running mate if he would accept the Democrat Partys nomination.

Four years later Republicans who had not held the White House in twenty years and Democrats who had noincumbent to run for reelection for the first time in 16 years, clamored for a nominee who could easily win the presidency in 1952. Republican standard-bearerThomas Dewy had been the Partys nominee twice and twice he was defeated. As a result, Dewey was not inclined to run for a third time and Republicans were not inclined to let him run as their nominee again. But Governor Dewey and Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge worked to persuade Eisenhower to run for the Republican presidential nomination through an organization called “National Citizens for Eisenhower”. Up till then, the closest name that Republicans had to a frontrunner was Robert Taft.

Senator Robert Taft

Taft was the establishment’s choice, but a schism between isolationist Republicans, represented by Taft, and internationalist Republicans who wanted someone else, gave the draft Eisenhower movement much momentum. At the same time, the spread of Communism was an issue of most importance and it was the one issue most responsible for Eisenhowers willingness to accept a run for the White House.

Ike believed in the use of diplomacy to contain the red menace in Europe. But Taft had a McCarthy-like belief in weeding out subversion at home. Things finally came to a head behind closed doors when Eisenhower told Taft that he would absolutely refuse to run if Taft agreed to collective security of Europe. But Senator Taft refused and so Ike allowed the draft movement to proceed. He also decided that if he would accept any nomination it would be the Republican nomination. This he determined when he realized that he was not in synch with the Democrats big, central government, liberty eroding approach to all the issues facing the nation.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

By early January of 1952, Eisenhower made it clear that if he was offered the Republican presidential nomination, he would accept it. And so without Eisenhower even knowing, Henry Cabot Lodge placed Eisenhowers name on the New Hampshire Republican Primary ballot. But Eisenhower still did not campaign. In fact he told people that he did not believe that support for him was a popular as many tried to claim.

Then in February, a Draft Eisenhower for President rally was held in New Yorks Madison Square Garden. The event was expected to draw a whopping 16,000 people to it. But those projections were wrong. An overwhelming 25,000 people showed up. A month later, General Eisenhower won every single delegate in the New Hampshire primary as he defeated Robert Taft by 50% to 38%. The rest is history.

The next closest example of a draft effort, came in 1964. The effort itself though, actually began in 1961.

With the defeat of Nixon in 1960, the Republican Party began its long, contemporary evolution towards the right. The leaders of the Republican Eastern establishment seemed to have exhausted its hold on to the type of influence it had been wielding. And at the same time a growing number of conservatives were beginning to organize. These numbers first took root within the ranks of the National and State Young Republican organizations. but while all this was happening, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater began serving as the Chairman of the Republican Senate Re-elect Committee. In this position he traveled thousands of miles, spoke before tens of thousands of people and quickly became the most popular face of the growing conservative movement.

By the time 1961 approached, with no clear choice for the 1964 Republican Presidential nomination, Conservatives itching to take the Party over from the liberal establishment, began to organize and think about who their candidate for President would be. Among a small group of political insiders, the consensus was Barry Goldwater. But Goldwater refused to run. He did not believe that he could win and he did not want his family exposed to the rigors of such a national campaign.

Then in June of 1961 Time magazine placed Goldwaters picture on their cover and did a story on his growing national popularity. They wrote;

“Goldwater is the hottest political figure this side of Jack Kennedy…. No Republican is more in demand. Since March, Goldwater’s Washington office has received more than 650 written invitations for the Senator to put in an appearance, plus hundreds of telephone requests. Goldwater’s mail runs to a remarkable 800 pieces a day…[and] visitors crowd around Barry Goldwater’s fourth floor suite in the Old Senate Office Building hoping to earn a passing hand clasp or a hastily scrawled autograph.”

This added to the motivation that a small group of activists already had. F. Clifton White, William A. Rusher, and Ohio Congressman John M. Ashbrook, began a process that combined tens of thousands of conservative contacts and began to organize a process that would get them in to Republican Party leadership positions. The most important of these positions were those of delegates to the 1964 Republican National Convention. This behind the scenes, group of three, eventually became a group of 22 and continued to grow from there. Soon it became known as the Suite 3505 Committee. 3505 being the address number of its New York City office.

Congressman John Ashbrook

After intense networking of Young Republicans, women s groups, and conservative oriented voters of all kinds, the expanded executive committee of this group concluded that Barry Goldwater was their only real choice for President in 64. But Goldwater still rejected the notion. So the committee quickly became an official draft organization that would seek to force Goldwater to run. It expanded and created state committees and between petitions, publicity and aggressive persuasion, Barry Goldwater decided on November 20, 1963 to run for the Republican presidential nomination.

Two days later, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. This changed everything. Kennedy was a friend of Goldwater and the two had come to look forward to a sincere campaign that would test their ideologies. Goldwater also knew that with President Johnson now as his opponent, his own Southern base would be undermined. Two weeks after President Kennedy was assassinated, Goldwater announced that he would not be a candidate. However, The draft movement that had been in place never stopped and on December 11th, 1964, with polls showing Goldwater to be the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination, he reentered the race.

Both of these draft movements teach us lessons that are relevant to todays approaching presidential election.

The draft efforts of 1952 and 1964 were both successful in getting the person they intended nominated. But both campaigns involved figures who had some sort ofundeniablyobviouspopularity. For Eisenhower it was popularity among the general population. For Goldwater, it was popularity among a growing movement within the population. Each provided momentum but equally as important, each had a candidate that was at some point in time willing to run. So the question is, can a successful draft effort be waged for the 2012 election?

It is clear that the G.O.P. is not in a position to use 1952 as a model. There is no single figure who is as popular among both Democrats and Republicans as Eisenhower was. But there are some parallels to 2012 that can be drawn from the 1964 draft Goldwater effort. Here we have a comparison that can be made between the emergence of the Conservative wing of the G.O.P. in the 60s, and the rise of the TEA Party movement of the past two years.

But there are two important distinguishing factors that come with this comparison.

The organization of the Conservatives movement in the 1960s involved coordination from within the political establishment, four years before the next presidential election. This allowed for an expedited path to organizing the movements ability to takeover the Party from within and, to elect Party officials and delegates to the National Convention. The TEA Party began on the outside of the establishment and even though it now has a few of its own on the inside, they have much less time to organize than did the effort of 1960. But perhaps the most important of all differences is that unlike the case with Conservatives in 64, the TEA movement has no one person that it is solidly behind. In 64 the Conservative movement had Barry Goldwater as their clear favorite, the consensus candidate. The Taxed Enough Already movement lacks that clear consensus choice. Is it Sarah Palin? Is it Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump, Herman Cain, Allen West, Marco Rubio, or someone else?

Sarah Palin is the one contender with whom a draft movement could possibly be most successful. But even if all the right pieces were to fall into place and a successful 1964-like Barry Goldwater draft effort helped make Sarah Palin the Republican presidential nominee, that draft model failed to win the general election.

Draft efforts that are based only upon movements within a particular segment of society are able to influence the smaller electorate of partisan politics, but they have less of a chance to influence the vast majority of the larger electorate as a whole. This is not to say that the TEA Party movement cant influence the nomination of a Republican candidate that can win the presidential election. They can. But that influence can not come through a draft effort that labels the nominee as the TEA Party candidate. Just as it did not work when Goldwater was labeled the Conservatives candidate. Being a conservative candidate and being the Conservatives candidate create two vastly differently images. The latter is a direct negative connotation implying that one is owned by a particular group. The former indicates ones own sense of conviction. It may be shared with others, but it is not owned by others.

Probably one of the most successful draft campaigns that Republicans could run is one which seeks to make General David Petraeus our nominee. Like Eisenhower he is not seen as particularly partisan, he is not viewed as being owned by any Party or movement, and at a time when our nation is waging one war, possibly getting involved in another, and winding another one down, the choice of a General as our nations leader carries a certain populist logic.

Then again, the sense of the electorate is that our economy and the national budget are our most immediate top priorities. Who would be a natural candidate to draft given that consideration?

If Donald Trump were not such a dangerously fowl mouthed, often irrational and egomaniacal, loose cannon, he could have been a strong draft pick. Were it not for RomneyCare, Mitt Romney with his private sector, managerial, and business experience, would have been another perfect fit for solving economic problems. But we all knew that Romneyhas beenrunning for a long time now, so a draft effort was never even needed for him. In factfor all intents and purposes, he should be the frontrunner without a draft effort.

Governor Mitch Daniels

The person perfectly suited for a successful draft campaign based on the economy would be Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. As a former budget director he earned the nickname The Blade” and his leadership inIndiana, particularly on the state budget, is unmatched. Indiana is one of the most solvent state’s in the nation and its economy has been one of the strongest of all during the current economic malaise. Of course for Mitch Daniels, there is already a very active draft effort underway.

Students For Daniels has aired commercials in Iowa, organized college campuses on state levels, created an active and effective website and maintained a degree of pressure that is all good. But Mitch Daniels seems reluctant to make a decision to run and as such, the draft effort begun by Students for Daniels would need to quickly expand beyond students if it is to achieve its goal. But even then one must ask, could a person like Mitch Daniels attract a crowd of 25,000 to Madison Square Garden as the draft effort for Eisenhower did in 1952? Its unlikely.

Truly successful drafts are rare and at this stage in the game, it is unlikely that such an effort would be very productive. Although there are a handful of names that I believe are worthy of draft efforts and have an ability to generate popular support, many of those names are clearly unwilling to run. Two personal favorites of mine include Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. But with 17 months or so to go, it may not be possible to coordinate the type of effort that could generate the national euphoria for their candidacies that would be necessary for them to accept the nomination. Paul Ryan is quite satisfied with the extraordinary power that he wields as Chairman of the House Budget Committee and while Marco Rubio is a sort of new phenomenon, he clearly intends to pace himself. Rubio does not want to be a flash in the pan.

That is why, all things considered, the Republican Party is probably best left to a process that involves the unforced participation fo candidates. We will be best suited by a contest that allows the eventual nominee to have to earn his or her popularity based on their ability to demonstrate the courage of leadership, their innovative solutions to our problems and the capacity to translateconservatism into the practical application of government. A contest that allows for suchabilities to be publicly tested through a hard fought campaign, can truly make those who currently believe that a viable candidate is not on the horizon, begin to believe that the right person has been right in front of eyes all this time.

Political campaigns have a way of producing heroes. Some quickly fade when the campaign ends, others linger on as trusted elder statesmen. But either way, the winner of those campaigns earn themselves at least a temporarydevout following and the 2012 primary process will be no different.

In the mean time, we the people, still seek that perfect candidate. And that search has produced no lack of current draft efforts. Here are just some that can be found:

2012 Draft Sarah Committee

Draft Jim DeMint for President in 2012

Draft Paul Ryan for President

Chris Christie for President

We Need Michele

Draft Cain 2012

Draft Allen West for President 2012

Jeb Bush 2012

Draft Rudy Giuliani for President

Students for Daniels

Draft Rand Paul for President

Draft General David Petraeus for President

Draft Michael Bloomberg 2012

Draft Lou Dobbs for President

Should Trump Run

Draft Gates 2012

Draft Mike Huckabee for President 2012

Draft Jesse Ventura

Draft Dick Cheney for President

Draft Marco Rubio for President 2012

Judge Andrew Napolitano for President

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