Category Archives: Political Commentary

But Has He Seen Me Lately?

I want to thank Glenn for pointing out that my knuckles don’t drag (and Richard Bennett, for implying that they do–as long as he spells the URL right…). Well, maybe on the keyboard…

Anyway, higher praise than that no man can ask.

And actually, I was pointing to Free Republic primarily for entertainment value (which it always provides, on several levels)–not to buttress my own arguments.

And Richard, really…

Astute politicians know how to navigate these new political waters, as Riordan did in LA…

It is to laugh. “Astute politicians” don’t spit in the face of the core constituency of their party, as Riordan did. McCain made the same mistake. They also don’t willfully give copious campaign donations, and aid and comfort, to the opposite party. I mean, come on, he gave donations to Maxine Waters. And you call that an astute Republican politician?

It’s possible to run as a moderate without demonizing your own base, but Dick Riordan sure didn’t know how to do it.

Suicidal California Elephants?

I don’t think so.

Ken Layne’s latest Fox News column is up. He (an admitted Democrat-turned-temporary-Republican) bemoans the fact that California Republicans seem suicidal because they won’t nominate a Democrat (Riordan) to run against Grayout Davis.

Well, he’s right that California Republicans like to lose, but it’s not because they nominate conservative candidates. It’s because they take occasionally idiotic policy positions (like Prop 187), or nominate candidates who are even more colorless than Gray (e.g., Matt Fong, Pete Wilson).

If running as a liberal/moderate was such a great idea, why did Mike Huffington lose, Ken? Bruce Herschenson was the last interesting candidate that they ran in my memory, and he came close to beating Barbara Boxer. He primarily lost because it was “the year of the (Democratic) woman,” and some last-minute dirty tricks.

Anyway, sorry, Ken, win or lose in November (I actually think he’s got a good shot, given the quality of the opposition, the lingering memories of the energy fiasco, and the changed mood of the country) Bill Simon is almost certainly going to be the Republican nominee. And it’s not because Republicans like to lose. It’s because they like to run Republicans–particularly Republicans who don’t go out of their way to sneer at the base.

[Update at 11:13 AM PST]

Joseph Britt agrees with Ken, and disagrees with me.

California conservatives are much happier complaining about liberals than actually exercising power themselves.

You don’t exercise power as a conservative by electing a Richard Riordan. To a conservative (a category in which I don’t place myself, by the way), Riordan is actually to the left of Davis on many issues. They just don’t see the point.

The GOP primary wouldn’t even have been close if they’d thrown their weight behind Bill Jones, but he wasn’t pure enough or rich enough.

Blame the White House for that. Riordan is their creation. Now they’re desperately making overtures to Simon, since they can read the handwriting. Simon will be a much stronger candidate than Jones, partly for the same reason he’s trouncing Jones–he can bring his own money to the table.

With Rudy’s endorsement, and Bush coming out here to campaign for him, and the upcoming budget battles in Sacramento, in which Davis will be blamed for the lack of funds due to his idiotic energy deals, I think that almost anyone will be able to knock him off this fall.

[Another update at 11:30 AM PST]]

The folks over at Free Republic are masticating Ken’s column and spitting it out. Many are making the same points that I do (though in a less genteel way). But then, I like Ken…

[Yet another update, at 11:46 AM PST]

Hugh Hewitt weighs in as well (on the race–not on Ken’s column)–he’s for Simon as well, and says why:

I decided on Simon after interviewing all three GOP candidates on my radio program last week. He’s upbeat, energized, ready to answer baseless attacks, and he doesn’t condescend to the voter. After the attacks on America, Simon is an almost ideal candidate to deliver the big three: honor, candor, and purpose. Simon will not only run strong in California, he’s a perfect new face for the GOP nationally as well.

The central issue in California in 2002 is the almost breathtaking incompetence of Gray Davis, a career political hack who found himself in the biggest job in the state and froze. On issue after issue Davis has fumbled the ball and called it a touchdown. He believes he can spin himself out of his disastrous handling of the state power shortage and his mismanagement of the state’s budget. “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” is not a question for voters, it’s a laugh line. As the Simon campaign reminds people, Davis’ slogan four years ago was “Experience money can’t buy.” Now we know why –there’d be no takers, period.

So Davis will attack, and attack, and attack. Here is where the real Reagan parallel comes in. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter was surrounded by the ruins of his first term in office and confronting an upbeat optimist from the West Coast in Reagan. So Carter attacked, again and again, and tried to persuade America that Reagan was a reckless ideologue. But 1980 was one of those years in which the American voter was unwilling to be spun. Americans were held hostage, and a war had broken out in Afghanistan. It was time for a change, and a big one. Reagan won in a walk.

Sound familiar? If Bill Simon stays upbeat and on message, if he focuses on California’s tottering economy and collapsed schools, and if he conveys the same wide-open embrace of all hard-working Americans, the worst governor in California’s history will also be the first one in a century to lose his first campaign for re-election.

[Yet another update, at 1 PM PST]

Richard Bennett comments:

California’s not the same state it was in the Reagan Era, it’s not even the same state is was the Pete Wilson Era — a lot of the Mexicans that Wilson went loopy over have registered to vote, and they take great pleasure in voting. It’s not the same state it was in 1994 when Reeps won a majority in the Assembly, either. But it’s still a state where most Republican voters believe that the Governor’s job has something to do with Roe v. Wade or the Second Amendment.

Well, it’s not just Republican voters who seem to believe that. And they aren’t asking for a governor to do anything with the Second Amendment–they just want one who will recognize its existence, and support things like e.g., concealed carry, and oppose things like state “assault weapon” bans.

In a democracy, we get the government we deserve; since Reeps nominated Dan Lungren last time, that means we get Gray. In a Simon- Davis matchup, as soon as the Dems learn that Simon has never held office and is ardently anti-abortion, we’re gonna deserve four more years of Gray as our penalty for being stupid.

If being anti-abortion is a problem, then it must mean that Democrat and independent voters also believe that a governor has something to do with Roe v Wade. I think that he can get around this problem, if he has competent campaign managers.

Back To Electoral College

Shiloh Bucher pointed me to an article on the electoral college, and why it would be a very bad idea to get rid of it. Over a year after the Florida debacle, it’s easier to discuss this a little more dispassionately, but I suspect that whatever hysterical movements were afoot at that time to abolish it are also much diminished, to the point of irrelevance.

But it’s worth making one more point about it, that was never really discussed at the time. Many bemoaned the fact that Bush was elected with less than fifty percent of the vote (though he got a higher percentage than Bill Clinton in either election), and more legitimately, that he got a lower percentage than Gore. But you can’t change the rules after the election. I know for a fact that in my case, had the election been predicated on the most popular vote, I would have voted differently.

I wanted Bush to win, given the realistic alternatives, but because I am a Wyoming voter, I knew that it was safe to vote for someone else, because Bush was going to win Wyoming handily anyway. I also knew that the popular vote could be close (though I expected Bush to win it with margin to spare). As it turned out, I voted for Nader (holding my nose) just on the theory that if he got enough votes he would be eligible for future public funding, which would make him an ongoing thorn in the Democrats’ side, and I was confident that he had no chance of winning, especially in Wyoming. But if it was to have been solely decided on the popular vote, I certainly would have voted for Bush.

That’s just one reason why attempts to change the rules after the election were just…wrong.

Interesting Times For California Republicans

Dick Riordan had a rough weekend at the California Republican convention. He lost the straw poll, was booed several times, has received numerous negative endorsements from many party luminaries, and was stalked by a guy in a rhinocerous costume, symbolizing his perception as a RINO (Republican In Name Only). George Deukmajian (former governor) has stated flat out that he will not support a Riordan candidacy.

Bill Simon, who won the straw poll, is coming on strong. He’s getting some key endorsements, and he’s got plenty of his own money. People have been predicting another potential Bloomberg-like win here, with the liberal Riordan running as a Republican of convenience, but I think it’s looking less and less likely that he’ll get the nomination. Party activists tend to be much more conservative than the even the registered Republican voters, especially in California.

And if he does, I fully expect to see a third-party movement spring up, led by Mr. Simon. It’s not clear to me whether he’d pull more votes from Riordan or Davis…

Bloviation From Pyongyang

If you’re interested in a view from an alternate universe, you may be interested in news from the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK). When a country has to include both “democratic” and “republic” in its name, it’s a safe bet that it’s neither…

Anyway, there are several amusing articles there, with titles like, U.S. use of biological and chemical weapons assailed, KCNA on U.S. futile attempts, Bush’s projected trip to S. Korea opposed, and Full play to advantages of Korean socialist economic management called for.

Some of the articles are en espanol. Don’t ask why.

They also have an enlightening article about the Dear Leader, called Anecdotes about President Kim Il Sung. It’s a real hoot:

…when the president gave field guidance to Kaesong area on September 14, Juche 61 (1972). He asked officials there what was the special food of the area.

None of them could give a correct answer to the questions repeatedly put by him in the course of the on-the-spot guidance.

While visiting factories in the city he met old men who had lived there for years and found out that loach soup was a special food of the city.

And he made sure that a new restaurant was built there to serve only loach soup to the customers.

Markets? We don’t need no stinkin’ markets! We’ve got a leader.


Politically, it was a home run.

And from a war standpoint, I could have asked for no more.

From a policy standpoint, I found it disappointing on the domestic front.

While it was general and thematic, the themes were definitely not federalist or classically liberal ones–we, the federal government, are responsible for security, local and national; we, the federal government, are responsible for your health care; we, the federal government, are responsible to see that you have a job, or get prescription drugs, or don’t get screwed if the company you work for goes under. We, the federal government, are responsible for your lives–not you.

On the other hand, it’s good political strategy. It looks to me like Rove & Co. have made a political judgment that they want to put the Dems in a box, and take back the Senate, and build their strength in the House. We didn’t get into this socialist mess overnight, and we won’t get out of it quickly either. I’m willing to wait until 2005 to start to roll back this crap–I just wish that I had some sense that this was really what they’re planning…

With Friends Like These…

I’m wondering on just what planet Brian Linse was living during the Clinton Administration that could cause him to type the following with (presumably) a straight face (re: Ken Lay):

Regardless of what illegal shenanigans the Enron boys may or may not have gotten up to in the past, Bush will and should be judged for having such a miserable scumbag as a close friend and supporter. Even with all of his problems, the Slick One never had an albatross like Lay around his neck.

Ummmm, let’s see, just off the top of my head…

Dan Lasater (Convicted Drug Dealer)
David Hale (Convicted of Fraud)
Jim And Susan McDougal (Convicted Fraud Artists)
Buddy Young (Strong-Arm Enforcer)
Jorge Cabrera (Convicted Drug Dealer)
Web Hubbell (Convicted Felon)
Arthur Coia (Corrupt Union Official)
Ron Brown (Corrupt Commerce Secretary)
Marc Rich (Fugitive From The Law)…

I’d go on, but I don’t want to get carpal tunnel syndrome.

[Thursday morning update]

And I didn’t even mention the relatives…