December 24, 2007

A Soldier's Night Before Christmas

...with Mannheim Steamroller's Silent Night as the backdrop...

Merry Christmas from page13news

December 15, 2007

Looking Forward

Rather than look back at 2007, page13news wants to look forward to what may be the most intriguing, not to mention entertaining, election year in 56 years. It was 1952 when we last had neither a sitting President or Vice President running for the Oval Office. Without an heir-apparent to the throne, the race will be unlike anything this generations has ever seen.

It wasn't that long ago, when prevailing wisdom leaned heavily toward another Clinton presidency. But ever since the Philadelphia debate (irony all over the place), Mrs. Bill Clinton has shown definitive cracks in her armor. The presumed-next-president has made a series of sophomoric mistakes which have resulted in free-falling poll numbers in each of the first 4 primary states.

Rumors of in-fighting at Big Clinton Enterprises, her inability to separate herself from her husband, planted questions, and Obama's ability to seize on Hillary's gaffs, have provided the foundation for a major turn of events in the Democrat race. It is starting to look possible that Clinton may lose all four of the early primaries. If that happens, it's all-but over for the former first lady.

So then what for the Dems and their allies? After all, since Florida and the hanging chads, the left has yearned for, and failed to taste, the sweet resounding victory they need, to get over Gore's loss. They and their buddies in the news/entertainment industry have spent over 8 years mocking, insulting, and attacking Bush in ways that have made some in their own party blush (Leiberman comes to mind). They've abandoned the concept of politics ending at the waters edge, called our troops murderers and rapists, called them losers (remember Kerry?), rooted for and insisted that we were losing in Iraq.

They cheered when Social Security reform didn't happen, they accused the administration of blatantly infringing on our civil liberties, and they pointed fingers after Katrina, when the incompetence was clearly their own. Their most compelling arguments are made by late-night comics, not leaders within the Democrat party.

The GOP isn't in any better shape. Although the top few presidential candidates haven't made any glaring, race-ending mistakes, none of them (except for maybe Rudy) inspire confidence or seem to possess the ability to capture an broad audience. Romney and Huck won't sell with moderate voters; Rudy's plan not to focus on Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, finds himself slipping in his most critical state, Florida; Thompson is no Reagan.

The GOP brand is damaged and not all because of Bush. The republican-lead congress squandered opportunities and lost credibility when they were in power. They have shown a complete inability to communicate their message effectively. They've cut deals with Democrats for re-election sake, instead of understanding the long-term effects of their actions.

So what will 2008 have to offer? Actually, there are a lot of reasons to look positively at the possibilities. Think about it. There is potential to have an actual contest leading up to the convention; both of them. Not one candidate on either side is the prohibitive favorite. The new front-loaded primary schedule has so many potential outcomes, that later contests - in Pennsylvania for example - may become the great equalizers. Hillary way ahead here, so is Rudy. If they both win the Keystone State, delegates of both parties may be divided among multiple candidates.

Suddenly, the normally boring party conventions take on a new life. Interests groups of all stripes will be force to deal with people they wouldn't normally. The winner will be the candidate who finds a way to sell the message, to cut deals, to mend fences. And both parties may emerge with completely different definitions of themselves. The Democrats could emerge as a the socialist they've become or the JFK conservative party they used to be, while the GOP could fall back to the Reagan model or appear more like Ron Paul libertarians. Hopefully they abandon the Specter/Bush/McCain/Graham model they currently seemed determined to become.

Without a clear leader emerging from the 16 contenders we have at our disposal, the potential exists for surprising results to surface. An actual debate on the direction our country wants to take, based solely on issues and common sense, may be one outcome. An outcome not rooted in polarization, but reason. One can dream can't he?

Of course, we could see the entire house of cards tumble as well. 2008 could look more like 1968. Such chaos would create the potential for disastrous outcomes. The polarization could get worse; some may see or claim a constitutional crisis exists. You think we are a divided country now, wait until the dust settles from that storm and see what we have.

The point is, no one will be able to definitively tell you how 2008 race will end. However, with all the possibilities out there, it sure will be fun to watch.

December 7, 2007

Setting Priorities

After watching GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's speech yesterday, I come away with a sense of worry. Sure, Mitt delivered a great speech. Inspiring, accurate, and filled with all the buzz words any Christian conservative would want to hear. However, that is exactly the reason why I am worried. While it was loaded with all the necessary qualifiers for a deeply religious man, conservatives need to measure this speech, with some big-picture thinking. Otherwise, we face the distinct possibility of guaranteeing another Clinton presidency. Folks, you need to get your priorities straight.

How do I get there? Out-of-the-box thinking.

Social conservatives define the GOP base and will for the foreseeable future. Their determination and persistence on a candidate with strong moral leadership is indeed a critical issue. However, political savy-ness is not their strong suit and they need to be careful about narrowly insisting on choosing the most social conservative candidate as Commander-in-Chief. There are several reasons why conservatives need to be cautious.

Let's start with the national political atmosphere. Republicans squandered the opportunity they had when they controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency, primarily by becoming exactly what they accused Democrats of being. Now, the general public sees little difference between the two parties. No matter which is office, the perception is they are all corrupt; legislating with their next campaign in mind; spending money like drunken sailors.

Bush ran like a conservative, but governed like an Arlen Specter moderate. Both of them did. So choosing the "conservative" candidate doesn't guarantee you'll get one. W's inability to effectively sell a message, to inspire confidence in his decision-making ability, has hurt the entire GOP brand. It's not all his fault; no other "conservative" politician (currently running for President) has been able to do this either.

But wait, you may be saying, didn't Romney's speech confirm he can sell the message? No.

Mitt did deliver a great speech that even has the local news stations in Philly comparing him to Kennedy, when defending his faith from being the sole definition of his candidacy. Mitt was inspirational in declaring the intentions of the founders about the issue of religious freedom. But here's the problem; it's not all about religion, faith, or moral compass this election cycle.


I am NOT saying that Romney isn't right in-line with conservative viewpoints on immigration, defense, and crime. What I AM saying is in both Romney and Huckabee's case, such fervent religious focus scares the snot out of moderate voters; the kind frequently found in places like Southeastern Pennsylvania - a place the GOP must win if it has any hope of keeping the Oval Office.

Remember Santorum?

Here, the ideal conservative candidate (a conservative Catholic), a man who put his head on the chopping block for Terry Schiavo, swayed voters to drop the gauntlet on his rising star by going too far right. He was well spoken, good looking and -unlike Romney - didn't sound like a typical 90's republican candidate.

"Typical 90's republican?", you may be asking. "What's that?" Glad you asked. There's one keyword which is an obvious hint of being such a candidate.

The word, VALUES.

Romney, as with most conservative candidates over the past decade and a half, use this word - pardon the pun - religiously. The word implies somehow that we republicans believe we are superior morally, but the public no longer believes us. Congressman Tom Foley and Utah Senator Larry Craig, among others, helped secure that concept. So continuing to drop the values phrase, usually coupled with family, falls on deaf ears. Additionally, it brings to moderate political minds, the view that abortion is the only issue which matters to the fill-in-the-blank GOP candidate.

And the Democrats know this. They use it consistently in their ads. Romney's speech, if he's nominated as the GOP candidate, gave voters who might be tuning in for the first time, the picture of a candidate that just another religious republican politician. If either he or Huck get the nod, the focus of the opposition will be on the social conservative aspect of the candidate, and not the security aspect.

In most election cycles, this conservative wouldn't have an issue with that debate. But the reality is, now is not the time for abortion or same-sex-marriage, delicate issues which come to mind when religion is the topic, to be the focus of the 2008 Presidential campaign. If it does, Hillary wins.

The focus of next year's election must be security. Immigration, Iran, and the resurgence of Marxist regime's all need to be top priorities, long before reforming the court system or a constitutional convention on securing the sanctity of marriage need to be addressed.

While I like Mitt and don't care about his religious choices, our country can't afford to have the religious distraction take our eyes off of what's really important.

Conservatives need to remember what the real issues are.