Most significantly, the straw men go from shoddy to shameful when he talks about how much he listens to his professed good friends Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt arguing against same-sex marriage. Here he is claiming to have substantial familiarity with the position he disagrees with, from people he respects and takes seriously, yet he still shadow-boxes with lazy caricatures of traditional marriage talking points rather than the arguments Prager and Hewitt actually make.
From the outrages he let Barack Obama get away with to the stunning ineptitude of his campaign team, Mitt Romney holds plenty of blame for last week’s dispiriting presidential election. But he’s not the only one, and before we do something stupid like surrender on immigration in a shortsighted bid to woo Hispanics, the Right needs to have a little chat about another key voting bloc that should have been far easier to hold…but wasn’t, for reasons conservatives seem unwilling to discuss.
The single most shocking detail about the results was the pitiful Republican turnout, with Romney receiving 3 million fewer GOP votes than John McCain and 5 million fewer than George W. Bush — a difference that could have overcome Tuesday’s 3-million-person difference in the popular vote or made up the 333,000 additional votes necessary for an Electoral College win.
Yes, Romney’s conservatism was imperfect. But so was Bush’s. And McCain? He was so liberal that, to keep him away from the nomination and ensure a conservative made it on the ballot, the punditocracy told us we had to rally around…Mitt Romney.
So how could Romney — who, for all his flaws, took most of the right positions, had an appealing background, and didn’t share Bush or McCain’s zeal for amnesty — possibly be less palatable than either of his moderate predecessors? Especially while trying to unseat someone widely considered to be the worst, most left-wing president in US history?
A big part of the answer is because somewhere between GOP presidential primaries, half the Right flip-flopped on Romney, recasting their onetime conservative alternative as the new RINO boogeyman we needed an alternative from, with scores of pundits, activists, and bloggers ranting that an amorphous party “establishment” was trying to force Romney on the base. Yes, politics is a tough business and primaries are the place for aggressively vetting our candidates, but far too many of our own crossed the line from “Romney is weak in area x” to “Romney is our enemy.”
Tea Party Nation head Judson Phillips and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said they’d focus on congressional races because Romney wasn’t worth their members’ excitement. Sen. Rick Santorum suggested Romney might not be different enough from Obama to bother changing presidents. Talk radio host Mark Levin excoriated Romney daily, calling him a corporatist of questionable character who couldn’t be supported in the primary without compromising all of one’s principles. Blogger Dan Riehl considered organizing conservatives to oppose Romney in the general election. Free Republic banned all Romney supporters as “enemies of the Constitution.” Blogger John Hawkins warned that supporting Romney would require conservatives to “sell our souls.” RedState.com waged an all-out war against Romney and his sympathizers, the most hysterical examples of which being Erick Erickson’s claim that nominating the bad Mormon would kill conservatism and Thomas Crown’s accusation that National Review “alienated” itself from the conservative movement by preferring Romney to the alternatives. Conservative stalwarts like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan got torn apart as phonies in popular comment sections for backing Romney. And last month, Personhood USA used an unfair spin on Romney’s words as evidence that he was “insisting on maintaining the status quo of abortion on demand.”
Fast-forward to Election Day, and 5 million Republican voters decide to stay home.
Gee, who could have guessed? (I mean, besides me.)
Again, we shouldn’t completely absolve Romney of responsibility. As the candidate, it was his job to assure the base he could walk the walk. Nor should Romney’s shortcomings have gone ignored or unchallenged during the primary.
But with so many influential conservative voices doing everything they could to convince their audiences that Romney was just Diet Obama and that he posed an existential threat to their very philosophy, is it any wonder that so many of them decided not to vote? How is any post-primary coalescing supposed to fully heal divisions that deep? How are Republican candidates supposed to endure two-front wars against Democrats and their own base?
Rather than protect the integrity of the Republican ticket, Levin, Erickson, Perkins, and company served as useful idiots for the Left, dividing conservatives enough for a weak incumbent with indefensible ideas and hated policies to keep power for another four years. And now we’re all going to suffer for it.
It goes without saying that for 2016, we’ll need to find a candidate with bolder instincts, a deeper affinity for conservatism, and greater skill in articulating it. But by the time his own failings and impurities come to light, hopefully Obama’s second term will have taught our Purity Police that a little perspective can make a world of difference.
My latest Live Action post:
Over the weekend, Susan Saulny had a report in the New York Times on “centrist women” who are turning against the Republican Party, and I must say, I’m a little disappointed. Not that the article’s a hatchet job, mind you—that’s what I’ve come to expect from the Times. No, I’m disappointed that it’s such a shoddy attempt; I’ve come to expect much more effort and creativity from America’s premiere propagandists.
From a “randomly generated list of voters,” Saulny interviews a handful of self-described moderate or Republican women who claim that the birth control debate currently raging in the media has destroyed whatever intention they have of voting for the GOP candidate in November:
- Mary Russell, retired teacher, “evangelical Christian and ‘old school’ Republican who supported Mitt Romney “just two weeks ago” but is now considering Barack Obama: “We all agreed that this seemed like a throwback to 40 years ago. I didn’t realize I had a strong viewpoint on this until these conversations. If they’re going to decide on women’s reproductive issues, I’m not going to vote for any of them. Women’s reproduction is our own business.”
- Fran Kelly, retired public school worker who voted for John McCain in 2008: “Everybody is so busy telling us how we should act in the bedroom, they’re letting the country fall through the cracks. They’re nothing but hatemongers trying to control everyone, saying, ‘Live as I live.’ If Republicans would stop all this ridiculous talk about contraception, I’d consider voting in November.”
Read the rest at Live Action.
Mohammed is mainly known for the fact that he was the defense attorney for Muslims who were arrested in the wake of 9/11 because of their ties to terror organizations. In one case, Mohammed fought the government’s effort to deport Mohammed Qatanani, the imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County and an influential member of the extremist — though well-connected — American Muslim Union. Though the New York Times praised him in 2008 during his deportation trial as a “revered imam” and portrayed the case as an overreaction to 9/11, Qatanani, a Palestinian, is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and admitted to being a member of Hamas when he was arrested by Israeli authorities in 1993 before coming to the United States. Though he claimed to be an advocate of interfaith dialogue (and was accepted as such by some liberal Jews), Qatanani was no moderate on the Middle East. His ties to Hamas were well known, and just the year before his deportation trial, Qatanani endorsed Israel’s absorption into an Islamic “Greater Syria.” Qatanani clearly lied about his record as an Islamist on documents that he used to enter the country. But he was nevertheless able to evade justice in the immigration courts because the judge accepted his undocumented claim that the Israelis tortured him.Qatanani also benefited from having some highly placed friends in the justice system as a result of the political pull of the American Muslim Union, which boasts Sohail Mohammed as one of its board members. The AMU was able to get former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell, and then U.S. attorney Chris Christie to intervene on Qatanani’s behalf during the trial. As far as Christie was concerned, this was not a matter of merely signing a letter or making a phone call. The day before the Immigration Court announced its decision, Christie actually spoke at Qatanani’s mosque (Qatanani’s predecessor had boasted of raising at the mosque $2 million for Hamas via the now banned Holy Land Foundation) at a Ramadan breakfast dinner, where he embraced the imam while praising him as “a man of great good will.”Terror researcher Steve Emerson was quoted at the time as calling Christie’s involvement in the case “a disgrace and an act of pure political corruption,” especially since “I know for certain that Christie and the FBI had access to information about Qatanani’s background, involvement with and support of Hamas.”
My first RedState post:
As many of us celebrated the birth of our nation this weekend, our pride and gratitude were tempered by the fear that America might have a dwindling number of future Independence Days to look forward to. A survey of the political landscape reveals that such pessimism regarding the survival of our Founding principles and institutions is not without cause.
The Left’s cancerous influence over our politics, media, and culture remains widespread, and the Right’s efforts in curing it leave much to be desired:
- Over one million unborn children are slaughtered every year, yet when the Susan B. Anthony List asks those running to be the nation’s next president for the most basic and mild of pro-life promises, National Review decides they ask too much. Reason’s Matt Welch claims that only 30% of professed libertarians apply their philosophy of liberty and unalienable right to those most in need of their protection.
- Despite all the this-time-we-really-mean-it promises from Republicans after their 2010 victory, it’s still doubtful that the GOP has the fortitude or savvy to right our fiscal ship. Speaker John Boehner settled for a budget deal that began with far smaller spending cuts than America needs and turned out to be far, far less than even the announced numbers. Signs of further disappointment suggest the GOP still hasn’t kicked its addiction to compromise.
The following rankings are based strictly on their performance last night, not their overall merit as candidates.
First Place: A tie between Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich. I was surprised to see Bachmann at all, simply because she hadn’t made her intentions to run official before last night, and I didn’t expect to be as impressed with her performance as I was (I’ve always liked her passion for conservatism, but she has had a few foot-in-mouth issues). Bachmann was clear, polished, passionate, and generally delivered a performance that stood in stark contrast to the Left’s caricature of her as an unserious nut. Gingrich, unsurprisingly, delivered a performance that showcased his unmatched command of the details and a no-nonsense attitude that I think would have taken him far if…well, if he wasn’t Newt Gingrich, weighed down by all the baggage that entails.
Second Place: Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney. Solid performances, but more or less interchangeable in my view. Romney may have been a little more polished, though he’s lucky nobody forced him to get too specific about health care. Speaking of which…
Third Place: Tim Pawlenty. He would have been in a tree-way tie for second with Santorum and Romney, were it not for chickening out when given a chance to back up his attacks on RomneyCare. Tim does realize that, if he wins the nomination, he’ll have to say uncomplimentary things about Obama to his face, right?
Fourth Place: Herman Cain. I never expected to be as disappointed as I’ve been in Cain. Despite being able to speak with great confidence and clarity on economics, it’s clear he hasn’t made any effort to improve his foreign policy credentials. He also stumbled badly when trying to explain his remarks on the loyalty of Muslims, and I was disappointed to learn he wouldn’t support the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Fifth Place: Ron Paul. His delivery is so terrible that I can’t fathom how this guy managed to develop a cult of personality around himself. He comes across as the crazy uncle you’re constantly praying won’t embarrass you in front of dinner guests.
First, here’s his asinine characterization of the scandal:
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-New York), of course, is accused of… Well, it’s not clear what, exactly, Weiner’s being accused of. His Twitter account apparently was hacked, or used by a trusted friend or employee for illicit purposes. And so, a close-up shot of a man’s crotch in underwear was sent from his account to a woman in Seattle.
By contemporary standards, the shot is pretty lame and tame. And, as soon as the Congressman realized the pic had been sent from his account, he disavowed and deleted it. The woman from Seattle, likewise, immediately repudiated the notion that she was some sort of love interest of Weiner’s […]
It’s clear, I think, that Weiner himself never sent this lewd pic to the 21-year-old college student in Seattle. However, others with access to his account or the pic perhaps did. We just don’t know — and we really shouldn’t care.
Case closed, right? I mean, things happen; accounts get hacked (or sometimes misused by trusted friends and employees); we all realize that; and so we move on.Well, no, because to impassioned partisan bloggers, both Left and Right, any such incident is a chance to score political points. It’s a chance to beat up the other side, bloody them politically, and pile on the points for your team. And so this non-story quickly — nay, immediately – became the latest “SCANDAL!”
- Weiner sent the photo and had some sort of relationship with the girl. In this case, he’s a married man and a public servant having an affair with someone young enough to be his daughter.
- Weiner sent the photo unsolicited. In this case, he’s a married man and a public servant exploiting one of his supporters’ fondness for him and sexually harassing harassing her.
- Someone else sent the photo. In this case, somebody committed sexual harassment against this girl, framing a United States Congressman in the process, but for some reason that congressman doesn’t want the perpetrator brought to justice.
UPDATE: Now that Weiner’s fessed up to the whole thing, Guardiano has another post. Does he admit that his asinine claim that it was “clear” Weiner didn’t send the photos was totally wrong? Of course not. Instead, he rips on conservatives who are openly enjoying Weiner’s disgrace and insisting that the scandal is all about Weiner’s private life, which should be off-limits:
Anthony Weiner was caught doing a wrong and stupid thing: By his own admission, he “exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years.” Some of this communication took place after Weiner was married, and he lied about at least one explicit tweet.
That’s sad, shameful and embarrassing. But it also is of no real public import. It’s between him, his wife, his rabbi and his God.
In fact, it remains true even now that nobody has shown Weiner’s actions had any legal or public implications whatsoever.
The should-we-care-about-politicians’-infidelities debate is an old one, and it’s no surprise an unprincipled hack like John Guardiano takes the side of indifference. In my opinion, of course a politician’s affairs are politically relevant – they reveal whether he likely to keep promises, whether he takes trust seriously, whether he has self-control or is a narcissist, etc. And in Weiner’s case, it definitely sounds like not all of Weiner’s pen pals were interested in show & tell. Again, does the phrase “sexual harassment” mean anything to John? How pathetic is the state of American politics that we can’t even agree that swapping causal sex talk and photos with complete strangers is conduct unbecoming a congressman, and that it reveals that someone lacks the judgment we should expect out of the people making decisions that affect our lives and liberties?
Guardiano goes on to make himself look like even more of a moron:
Some have argued that, by sending explicit photos to a women he barely knew, or had just met online, Weiner made himself susceptible to blackmail. I suppose that’s technically true, but it’s also rather farfetched and unrealistic.
Weiner’s politics are well known; his congressional votes are well publicized; and so it’s hard to see how, in our open and democratic society, he could be blackmailed into changing his political stripes.
Saying Weiner made himself susceptible to blackmail is no more convincing than saying that corporate campaign contributions “buy” a congressman’s vote. In truth, campaign contributions follow a congressman’s vote; they do not direct it.
By the same token, Weiner was pursuing these women for his own personal purposes; they were not political types pursuing him for partisan or financial gain.
This is so ridiculously obtuse I barely know where to begin. First, I doubt Weiner would change his political stripes, either, but it’s incredibly ignorant and simplistic to suggest that’s the only conceivable kind of blackmail. Not all votes are a question of ideology, and there are plenty of other ways a congressman can be useful, such as pulling strings with various federal, state, and local agencies. Second, it’s even more absurd to limit the pool of blackmailers to Weiner’s known partners/victims – the point is, Weiner was so indiscriminate that he didn’t care what kind of people were getting this material, and that there’s no telling whose hands it could ultimately fall into (again with the judgment thing). Third, it doesn’t matter how unlikely blackmail is in any particular case of impropriety. Public servants are supposed to avoid even the appearance of being compromised, to maintain the public’s faith in the process.
As a political junkie, I often find myself asking one question: is Person X simply dishonest, or is he really this stupid? With John Guardiano, I honestly don’t know. Does the American Spectator, an otherwise-serious conservative publication, know how badly their association with this guy reflects on them?
The Case of Anthony’s Weiner seems to be pretty open and shut. Liberal apologists are trying to muddy the water with talk of fabricated evidence and web hacking, but it’s all crap for one simple reason: Anthony Weiner will not deny that he’s the one in the picture. In fact, word is that he privately admits he’s taken such pictures in the past. Just watch the spectacular trainwreck of an interview the Congressman had with Wolf Blitzer and tell me he’s not lying.
What makes this story relevant, though, is the glaring inconsistency between Weiner’s version of events (someone framed me) and his reaction (it’s no big deal, let’s let bygones be bygones). Contrary to Weiner’s spin, a lewd photo sent unsolicited to a college girl isn’t an innocent prank – it’s sexual harassment. Let’s state it bluntly: Anthony Weiner, a prominent United States Congressman, sexually harassed one of his young female supporters. And even if you buy Weiner’s story, then he’s essentially saying that someone who sexually harassed one of his young female supporters – and framed Weiner in the process – shouldn’t be punished.
Either way, it’s the conduct of a scumbag. How Weiner’s House colleagues, the voters of New York, and liberals across the country react will tell us all we need to know about them.
UPDATE: John Boehner refuses to comment on the issue, or whether the House Ethics Committee should weigh in. Not surprising that the Republican Speaker of the House doesn’t have the courage or the integrity to speak simple truths, but it is disgraceful. It’s stories like this that make me think the GOP has a political death wish.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
“I think things could have been done somewhat differently,” Paul said this week. “I would suggest the way they got Khalid [Sheikh] Mohammed. We went and cooperated with Pakistan. They arrested him, actually, and turned him over to us, and he’s been in prison. Why can’t we work with the government?”
Asked by WHO Radio’s Simon Conway whether he would have given the go-ahead to kill bin Laden if it meant entering another country, Paul shot back that it “absolutely was not necessary.”
“I don’t think it was necessary, no. It absolutely was not necessary,” Paul said during his Tuesday comments. “I think respect for the rule of law and world law and international law. What if he’d been in a hotel in London? We wanted to keep it secret, so would we have sent the airplane, you know the helicopters in to London, because they were afraid the information would get out?”
Actually, there are conflicting reports about the possibility that the United States did have Pakistan’s permission to get bin Laden on our own if we got a bead on him. Now, your guess is as good as mine as to who’s telling the truth, but something tells me that getting the details straight wouldn’t change Paul’s opinion. Either way, one wonders if Paul has ever stopped to consider the fact that bin Laden spent six years in a sizeable compound built in a town dominated by the Pakistani Army, and wonder how that little detail could have possibly escaped the Pakistanis’ notice.