Why Fred Thompson’s Day Has Arrived

Why Fred Thompson’s Day Has Arrived

by Christopher Adamo

 

It is altogether unfortunate that even now, in early 2007, so much focus and attention is being directed at the 2008 presidential election. America’s policy making apparatus would be better served, were the Democrats who constitute the Congressional “ruling class” more concerned with the well-being of the nation, and not so fixated on their noxious pursuit of political power.

 

Nevertheless, much of the nation’s direction in coming years will be determined by next year’s elections. But a convergence of forces from both sides of the political aisle bodes particularly ill for Republican prospects. While outwardly “bipartisan “ in nature, it is reflective of a pervasive liberal mindset.
 

Something needs to decidedly change, or else the currently disastrous political tack of the Democrats may be solidified as a harbinger of America’s future, for however long the nation can endure under such gross misdirection.
 

Throughout 2006, Republican compromise and capitulation to the big-spending, morally bankrupt agenda of the Democrats left the public largely disillusioned and demoralized. And that public sentiment was clearly reflected in the upheaval of the midterm elections, which shifted the country decidedly into the dominion of the Democrats.
 

Yet the GOP hardly recognized the lesson of last November, and instead has all too frequently appeared to concede to the guiding philosophies of the political left. While Americans grow increasingly outraged by the Democrats’ “cut and run” response to an ever encroaching Islamist malignancy, Republican reaction to the elections have, until recently, been excessively conciliatory and accommodating.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had initially been heralded in glowing terms, by everyone from the most junior House members to the President. As a result, her audacity and that of her cohorts has mushroomed. She now dares to collaborate with America’s enemies during an ill-advised Middle East junket.

 

Meanwhile, discussions of “bipartisanship” and “doing the peoples’ business” within the Congress (which translates as “spending money”) only serve to bolster the impression that things do go better with Democrats in charge. Moreover, Republican refusal to pursue rampant Democrat scandal and corruption lends credence to the notion that such malfeasance only occurs within the GOP. Clearly, the message of conservatism has been blurred.

 

Major Republican players such as former House Majority leader Dick Armey have sought to expunge conservative and Christian principle from the party, claiming that it is too polarizing. Bob Dole’s “big tent,” a perversion of Ronald Reagan’s winning concept of bolstering the ranks through inspirational leadership, is once again being floated as a means of “broadening the base,” by claiming devotion to every disparate interest group.

 

Oblivious to the fact that a watered-down party platform, which largely sidesteps true conservatism, is the primary reason for the GOP’s poor showing last November, party “moderates” (read: unprincipled liberals) strain to the left. Though by doing so they will neither garner Democrat support, nor will they re-ignite any enthusiasm among the conservatives who abandoned them last year.
 

The current lineup of Republican “frontrunners,” led presently by former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani, epitomizes this mindset. But far from being a winning strategy, it is a recipe for disaster.

 

In an interview with Barbara Walters just this past week, Guiliani gave an ominous indication of just how his campaign will eventually implode at the hands of the Democrats and the liberal media. When asked about his wife’s involvement in his administration, he stated that, among other things, she would be in attendance at his cabinet meetings.

 

Once word of this got out, and was portrayed as a possible repeat of Bill and Hillary’s “co-presidency,” Guiliani backtracked, claiming that, as First Lady, his wife would pursue her own interests, dealing primarily with health and fitness. Clearly, neither his first assertion nor the subsequent disclaimer represented any heartfelt conviction, but instead resulted from blundered attempts at posturing and pandering.

 

In like manner, the lone effort by which he has attempted to woo conservatives amounts to a promise to appoint “originalist” judges to the Supreme Court. Yet he previously lauded ultra-liberal Clinton appointee Ruth Ginsburg in glowing terms. One need only consider this in light of his current incongruous behavior and its potentially dire ramifications, to understand why Rudy’s assurances on the judicial issue hold no weight with the conservative base.

 

Nevertheless, the “moderates” press forward, believing that a Guiliani victory would garner the power they desire, while ultimately neutralizing the annoying influence of the “religious right.” By the time that the consummate pragmatists who concocted this ill-begotten strategy realize that it cannot succeed, Hillary may well be holding up her right hand and swearing to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States, so help her whoever.

 

Enter the former Republican Senator from Tennessee. By the mere suggestion that he might consider running for President, Fred Thompson has completely upset the GOP pragmatists’ apple cart. Without even campaigning, he is presently polling far beyond conservative pretender Mitt Romney. And he is coming on strong against McCain and Guiliani. In an effort to stave off Thompson’s momentum, Guiliani has been compelled to start running ads on conservative talk-radio programs.
 

Yet Thompson holds several advantages over any of his early-bird competitors. With the exception of his previous support for campaign finance “reform,” he has staunchly upheld the conservative/pro-constitution philosophy. Thus, he is not burdened by any pile of liberal baggage from which he must extricate himself. He need not attempt to downplay or recast his past, but instead he can extol it as proof of his long-standing conservatism.

 

Although he has not yet formally announced, all signs point in that direction. Columnist Robert Novak, in an April 3, 2007 article, assures us that Thompson does indeed intend to run.

 

So, with mainstream America expectantly awaiting the entrance of a true Reaganite candidate into the presently wanting field of Republican presidential hopefuls, Thompson’s best bet is to simply be himself, and make no apologies for standing as firmly as he has. In fact, he should accept every attack on his conservative beliefs as an opportunity to reassert his devotion to them.

 

By so doing, he could take the White House with an enthusiastic mandate from the grassroots. Furthermore, once in office he would be in an ideal position to re-establish the boundaries of conservatism and liberalism with sufficient clarity to drive the left into full retreat.

 

Hope has arrived in the 2008 race for the White House.

Gingrich: ’08 Sleeper Candidate

Gingrich: ’08 Sleeper Candidate
By Byron York
The Hill | February 14, 2007

I know you’re just dying to read more about the Lewis Libby trial, but after writing about it for two — or was it three? — columns in a row, I think it’s time to cover something that isn’t happening at the federal courthouse.But what? The astronaut love triangle? Nancy Pelosi’s plane? Obama quitting smoking?

Or maybe this presidential campaign thing. Leaving Democrats aside, the story now is the growing non-love affair between the Republican Party electorate and its presidential candidates.

Name one, and any GOP activist will tell you what’s wrong with him.

With John McCain, it’s baggage, baggage, baggage. The senator from Arizona has worked mightily to overcome the damage he did to himself during the closing days of his desperate battle with George W. Bush during the 2000 GOP primaries.
He campaigned hard for Bush in 2004, hoping that would help Republican voters put the old days behind. But it’s not at all clear that they have.

And there’s still his age. That picture of McCain appearing to be nodding off at the State of the Union was totally unfair — he was just reading the speech — but it brings up the concern that on Inauguration Day 2009, McCain will be older than Ronald Reagan was when he took office.

Okay, what about Rudy Giuliani?

You know that story, what might be called Giuliani’s “eight words” problem: Pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control.

For a while, it looked like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was benefiting from unhappiness with McCain and Giuliani.

But now Romney is having problems of his own.

Recently he addressed the Conservative Summit sponsored by National Review here in Washington.

It was a good opportunity. Not only were there a lot of conservative opinion leaders, there was the national press, and, more importantly, hundreds of committed conservatives from around the country.

And Romney — well, he blew the chance.

Most of the talk was about Romney’s business management experience. That’s all well and good, but Romney kept talking. And talking.  And talking. By the end, he had gone on for nearly an hour.

More importantly, though, he failed to grapple with the issue that is on most people’s minds: the war in Iraq.

People noticed. “To speak for 50 minutes or so and not to talk about the Iraq war before a conservative audience at a crucial moment in that war is bizarre and just wrong and almost offensive, in my view,” wrote National Review Editor Rich Lowry after the speech. “This doesn’t seem like an oversight. He went out of his way to check off every conservative box — except the one that is politically risky at the moment.”

So count many conservatives underwhelmed. And that’s before they consider Romney’s recent changes of heart on some social issues.

So who else is there?

Well, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) didn’t address the crowd. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee did, and gave a workmanlike and well-received speech.  But it’s safe to say that nobody’s socks were knocked off.

That left two other speakers, neither of whom is in the race but both of whom were viewed as potential candidates.

Jeb Bush talked a lot about his successes in Florida. He was relaxed and solid as he touted his credentials as a tax-cutter and a get-things-done governor.

His only problem came when he surveyed the domestic-issues landscape and covered everything except immigration. When a National Review reader brought it up, Bush seemed almost pained to talk about it, making an impassioned but not entirely popular defense of the president’s comprehensive immigration plan.

And though he made a good impression, Bush still has to deal with the people who have nothing against him but who will live by these words in 2008 and perhaps beyond: No More Bushes.

Finally, there was Newt Gingrich. The former House Speaker delivered an across-the-board indictment of the entrenched and lazy Republicans who lost the majority that Gingrich won in 1994. 

In Gingrich’s hands, the we’ve-lost-our-way theme was absolutely compelling, and it’s safe to say the audience loved it.

Now, no insider believes Gingrich has a chance to win. But if he chooses to run, he will shake up the Republican race. He’ll blow away some of his fellow candidates in debates and be a constant source of new ideas.

Bringing Conservatism Back to the American People

Bringing Conservatism Back to the American People

By Steven M. Warshawsky

Conservatives are lousy proselytizers.  True, conservatives dominate talk radio, write scores of best-selling books, and are well-represented in the ranks of the political commentariat in newspapers, magazines, and on the internet.  But in almost all of these cases, conservatives are “preaching to the choir.”  Very few liberals or “undecideds” listen to Rush Limbaugh or read Ann Coulter or watch Bill O’Reilly.  Their audiences – like those for Laura Ingraham, Mark Steyn, National Review, et al. – are overwhelmingly conservative (or at least non-liberal) in their political orientation.  As compelling as these conservative voices may be to you and me, they are not making many new converts to the conservative cause.  And conservatives need more converts, because they are losing the ideological battle for the nation’s soul.
The Nation’s Political Center Has Moved Left.
Despite the Reagan Revolution of 1980 and the Gingrich Revolution of 1994, the country today appears less hospitable than at any time in recent memory to core conservative ideas of limited government, private property, free enterprise, personal responsibility, strong national defense, and patriotism.  The avowedly liberal segment of our population rejects these values with increasing vehemence.  Much more troublingly, the broad middle segment of our population – usually described as “moderate” or “independent” – has acquiesced in a cradle-to-grave welfare-regulatory state that is incompatible with these traditional American virtues.   
For example, a Gallup poll from November 2006 reported that 69 percent of adults believe t is

“the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health care coverage.” 

A CBS News/New York Times poll  from June 2005 reported that 80 percent of adults believe it is “the government’s responsibility to provide a decent standard of living for the elderly.”  A USA Today/Gallup poll from April 2006 reported that 70 percent of adults favor “price controls on gasoline.”  And a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll  from July 2006 reported that 75 percent of adults believe that

“many businesses will cut corners and damage the environment unless strong government rules and regulations are in place.”  

While the significance of these and similar poll results can be debated, it strikes me as undeniable that the nation’s political center has moved left.  There certainly is little evidence for the contrary view, expressed by Wilfred McClay in the current edition of Commentary, about “the slow movement of the American electorate to the center-Right of the political spectrum.”  Simply compare George W. Bush’s electoral struggles with the triumphant victories of previous Republican presidents.  For most of my lifetime, every time a “conservative” Republican candidate squared off against a “liberal” Democratic candidate, the Republican candidate won, and won big.  See here for 1968 (the combined popular and electoral vote totals for Nixon and Wallace far exceeded those for Humphrey), 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988.  (The 1976 election was an obvious anomaly.)  Even in 1992, when the “New Democrat” Bill Clinton was elected, the combined popular vote for George H. W. Bush and Ross Perot (who ran a mostly conservative campaign) was 56.4 percent compared to 43 percent for Clinton.    
By the standards of the past 30+ years, in 2004 President Bush should have trounced John Kerry, who was one of the most liberal and uncharismatic candidates ever nominated by the Democratic Party.  He didn’t.  Despite a successful get-out-the-vote effort, a strong economy, and the Republican advantage in foreign affairs, Bush’s popular vote margin was 50.7 percent to 48.3 percent and his Electoral College margin was an equally slim 286 to 251.  (By comparison, in 1972, also in the midst of an unpopular war, Nixon thrashed McGovern, garnering 60.7 percent of the popular vote and 520 electoral votes.)  Moreover, in 2000 Bush lost the popular vote to the uninspiring Al Gore, 47.9 percent to 48.4 percent (plus another 2.7 percent for Ralph Nader), and only won the election due to the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court (otherwise the Florida courts would have thrown the election to Gore).  Frankly, conservatives are in denial if they fail to recognize that the “silent majority” that helped elect Republican presidents in the 1970s and 1980s has evaporated.
Now even a hard left politician like Hillary Clinton – whose grandiose scheme to “reform” the nation’s health care industry would have represented a great leap forward for socialism in this country (and still might) – is considered a good bet to make a serious run for the White House in 2008.  If you doubt that Hillary is a radical leftist, that just shows how far the nation’s political center has shifted.  Similarly, which Republican candidate probably has the best chance of beating her?  Rudy Giuliani.  I like Giuliani.  As of today, I would support him for president over any of the other likely Republican candidates (for many of the reasons highlighted by Richard Brookhiser here and here).  But I will be the first to admit that Giuliani is not a principled conservative.  However, a principled conservative (from either a libertarian or social conservative perspective) cannot win the presidency in 2008.  Query whether a candidate who ran on Ronald Reagan’s 1980 platform  could win today?  I am doubtful.     
The Liberal Propaganda Machine.   
What has caused this leftward shift in the nation’s political center?  In the absence of a more compelling explanation (perhaps based on demographic changes), I endorse the “ideas matter” view of history.  According to this view, beginning in the 1960s, liberals steadily gained control over the “means of intellectual production” in this country – the news, education, entertainment, and legal professions.  By the 1990s, these professions were filled with left-wing Democrats, who consciously wield their power over these industries to promote their ideological agenda.  Thus, while conservatives were busy pursuing profitable careers in business, finance, engineering, medicine, and other “practical” professions, liberals were tightening their grip on the nation’s schools, courts, and newsrooms – and using these institutions to change the way ordinary Americans think and live.  A line from Ayn Rand’s powerful novel Atlas Shrugged sums up the situation with stark clarity: 

“We produced the wealth of the world – but we let our enemies write its moral code.”

As a result, today it is liberals, not conservatives, who set the cultural and political agenda for the American people.  Conservatives merely react to this agenda, occasionally scoring successes (e.g., tax cuts, crime control, welfare reform) but leaving the underlying direction of our society – towards an ever larger welfare-regulatory state, the sine qua non of the liberal worldview – unchanged.  The growing welfare-regulatory state, in turn, is leading to the breakdown of the nuclear family, the erosion of such traditional American values as hard work, thrift, and self-reliance, a burgeoning culture of dependency and victimization, and a palpable loss of individual freedom.  Perversely, all of this is seen by liberals as “progress.”  Through their hold over the news, education, and entertainment worlds, liberals are persuading more and more Americans to agree.
Granted, in recent years, conservatives have shattered the long-standing liberal monopoly over the news media, for which Fox News and Bill O’Reilly, in particular, have received withering scorn.  This is a significant achievement, as we saw during the 2004 presidential campaign (e.g., the Swift Boat Veterans, Dan Rather’s phony memo).  But the mainstream media remains the dominant source of news and opinion for most Americans.  Consider, for example, that CBS News with Katie Couric, the lowest-rated network newscast, has an average of 7.8 million daily viewers, compared to only 2.1 million for Bill O’Reilly’s prime time broadcast.  Similarly, despite declining circulation, the major liberal newspapers (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times) have far larger market shares than their conservative counterparts (e.g., New York Sun, Washington Times, Orange County Register).
The clearest illustration of the still-enormous power of the “dinosaur” media is that a majority of Americans believe the nation’s economy is in bad shape – despite very low unemployment, historically high rates of home ownership, a rising stock market, and a consumer cornucopia that reaches down to the lowest levels of our society.  For example, an American Research Group poll from December 2006 reported that 51 percent of adults rate the national economy as “bad,” “very bad,” or “terrible,” compared to 47 percent who rate it as “good,” “very good,” or “excellent.”  Furthermore, 46 percent say the economy is getting worse, compared to only 7 percent who say it is getting better and 43 percent who say it is staying the same.  At the same time, a whopping 76 percent of adults rate their own financial situation as good, very good, or excellent, compared to only 23 percent who rate it as bad, very bad, or terrible; and 25 percent say their financial situation is getting better, compared to 23 percent who say it is getting worse and 47 percent who say it is staying the same.
Perusing the above poll results brings to mind the famous Groucho Marx line:  “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”  It is well chronicled that the liberal news media deliberately tells the public that the economy is bad whenever a Republican is in the White House, regardless of the facts.  One of the most egregious examples is New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has been predicting a recession for years (eventually, like a broken clock, he’ll be correct).  This is pure propaganda, intended to undermine the American people’s support for free market economic policies – the very source of our country’s amazing prosperity.  Yet even though an overwhelming majority of Americans recognize that their own financial situation is “good,” “very good,” or “excellent,” millions of people buy into this propaganda – and thereby become more likely to support collectivist policies – because this is what they are told day-in and day-out by the mainstream media.                             
The crucial point is that, even in the news media, where conservatives have been most successful in establishing “fair and balanced” alternatives to the left-wing establishment, the liberal propaganda machine cranks on, with devastating results.  The situation is just as dire in the realms of education and entertainment.  These industries are even more monolithically (maniacally?) liberal than the news media, and have become more so, not less so, since the Reagan era.  (Hillsdale College and The Passion of the Christ are lonely exceptions to the rule.)  Indeed, it is the country’s “educators” and “entertainers” who are most outspoken in discrediting our nation’s history and turning the American people away from the bedrock conservative principles on which this country was built.  I fear that a few more decades of the American people being force-fed liberal propaganda through the media, schools, television, movies, and courts, and the battle will be lost.
Conservatives Are Not Doing Enough To Influence Public Opinion.    
So what is to be done?  First, conservatives need to continue their campaign against the mainstream media.  This has been their most successful arena of battle to date.  But it is hardly enough.  In the long run, conservatives must break the liberal monopoly over education.  Schools are the most important institutions in our society for transmitting cultural and political values to the next generation (something liberals understand all too well).  Where else are nearly all American children subjected to didactic instruction for several hours a day, free from the distractions of the media and entertainment worlds?  Certainly not in the home.
Significantly, conservatives were able to break the liberal monopoly over the news media by establishing competing sources of news and opinion.  As I previously argued, they need to pursue the same strategy in the realm of education, by establishing competing schools and colleges dedicated as institutions to conservative ideas.  (For example, see Yorktown University.)  But this strategy will take time, not to mention mountains of money and fundamental regulatory reforms to free the education marketplace from the control of liberal accrediting boards
In the short-term, however, the problem that must be addressed is that unless a person actively seeks out conservative ideas, whether in books, magazines, or on the internet, he probably won’t be exposed to them.  On the other hand, just about everywhere a person looks today, he will be inundated with liberal propaganda.  Not just in schools, news, and entertainment, but in commercial advertising and “public service” announcements (most of which are by busybody public agencies and far left activist groups).  Next time you are walking down the street or shopping at the local mall or leafing through a popular magazine, pay attention to the ubiquity of liberal images and messages.  You will be astounded by how pervasive they are.  Then look for conservative images and messages.  You will be lucky to see any.
The cumulative effect of this “propaganda gap” on the consciousness of the average person must be to make that person more liberal.  It certainly will not make him more conservative.  Besides, most people nowadays do not even know what being “conservative” means unless someone else tells them.  (I know, because I used to be one of those people.)  Nevertheless, I am convinced that there are millions of Americans who have conservative instincts – Democrats and independents, as well as Republicans – but who do not act on them because they lack the ideas and vocabulary with which to express them in political terms.  So, for example, many people who might otherwise support a limited government agenda, instead vote for big government liberalism because they simply cannot conceive of a better alternative (the superior fairness, not just efficiency, of the free market is something few people understand). 
It is vitally important that conservatives do something immediately to close this “propaganda gap” and start spreading conservative ideas among the American people – and talk radio, cable news, political magazines, think tanks, and policy conferences, while extremely valuable, are just not enough.  The blunt truth is that the vast majority of Americans go through their daily lives without ever encountering any of these sources of conservative opinion.  Yet they constantly imbibe the liberal views spewed by schools, Hollywood, the media, and left-wing advocacy groups.  The upshot is that conservatives are not getting their message out to the American people, while liberals are. 
Furthermore, it is an unfortunate fact of political life that the liberal message, which is rooted in the universal human experience of authoritarianism and collectivism, is more readily understood than the conservative message, which is based on individualist principles that arose during a unique period of English and American history.  Despite the demonstrated superiority of conservative principles for organizing human society, there is nothing “natural” or “intuitive” – let alone inevitable – about them.  This does not mean that most people cannot understand conservative principles, or that most people will not support conservative principles.  On the contrary, I completely reject Rick Santorum’s pessimistic view that “conservatism, of course, will never be the political disposition of a majority of Americans.”  (After all, not too many years ago, it was.)  But it does mean that conservatives must work even harder to get their message across to the public than liberals.
Needed:  A Conservative Outreach Program.  
This is why I firmly believe that conservatives need to start speaking directly to the American people – and not merely to each other – by buying advertising space on billboards, buses and subways, at movie theaters, in newspapers and magazines, on radio and television, and so on, just like in a “public service” campaign.  The idea is to create a comprehensive, coordinated campaign to spread basic conservative ideas to people who are unlikely to encounter them in their everyday lives.  Compared to reforming the media or universities, such a campaign, even on a national scale, is a very practical goal.  The financial, organizational, and intellectual resources needed for such a campaign are no different from those that currently go into running think tanks, opinion magazines, and political campaigns.  What is different is the mission.       
Although the details of such a campaign are beyond the scope of this article, I envision simple, attractive, upbeat ads that quote from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the writings of great Americans; that celebrate important people and events in American history; that present the real facts about big picture issues, like the economy, the family, and immigration; and that reveal the truth behind common liberal rhetoric (e.g., “government spending” = taxpayer dollars).  These ads should not focus on narrow policy debates or highly controversial issues (e.g., capital gains tax cuts, abortion), but should be aimed at promoting core conservative values of limited government, private property, free enterprise, personal responsibility, strong national defense, and patriotism.  And the ads must be rigorously nonpartisan.  Any open party affiliation will undermine the integrity of the message.  Cultural and political transformation, not partisan point scoring, must be the touchstone.
Importantly, the ads must include a web address where people can go for more information and links to additional sources (more than 75 percent of Americans have access to the internet).  The ads thus not only will serve to convey conservative images and messages to the public, but also to attract interested individuals to the website, which in turn will serve as both a knowledge center and a gateway to further learning about conservative ideas.  Although the ads and website would be the centerpiece of the campaign, other outreach methods (e.g., public symposia, charity events, canvassing) should be included as the campaign grows and develops.  These techniques are not new.  They are what many special interest groups (mostly liberal) already are doing.  What’s new is the focus of the campaign:  to (re)educate the American people about the fundamental principles of conservatism.
The Republican Party Cannot Save Conservatism.
Before concluding, let me make a few observations about the role of the Republican Party in the conservative movement.
First, I think far too many conservatives expect the Republican Party to be the engine of conservatism in this country.  This is a consequence of the enormous influence of Ronald Reagan and, to a lesser extent, Newt Gingrich.  With such high expectations, however, comes deep disappointment whenever the Republican Party fails to play this role.  Hence, today there is widespread dissatisfaction among conservatives, libertarians and social conservatives alike, with the failure of President Bush and the Republican Congress to enact a more conservative agenda.  I share this dissatisfaction.  But this dissatisfaction can become self-defeating if it drives conservatives away from politics, leaving the field to the Democrats.  Conservatives may not be happy with all of President Bush’s policies (I certainly am not), but they are much better on balance than the alternative.  
Second, conservatives’ expectations for the Republican Party are based on an unrealistic assessment of the current political situation.  Frankly, as a “50-50” nation, there is a lack of broad public support for many conservative policies (e.g., entitlement reform), and far too many liberal legislators in both parties to allow even popular conservative policies to be implemented (e.g., stricter immigration controls).  Does this mean that, with better leadership, conservatives cannot be more successful politically?  Of course not.  But it does mean that there are real limits to what conservatives can accomplish in today’s political environment. If conservatives want to see more conservative policies enacted, then they have to find a way to move public opinion back to the right, which is what my proposed “conservative outreach program” aims to accomplish.     
Finally, I think conservatives do not always appreciate that the purpose of the Republican Party is to win elections.  This means that the Republican Party must respond to changes in public opinion, even if those changes are in tension with the party’s longstanding positions.  Thus, as the country moves left, the Republican Party will become more liberal (albeit less liberal than the Democratic Party), if it wants to remain politically competitive.  This is the genesis of “compassionate conservatism.”  Compassionate conservatism is a political program intended to enhance the electoral chances of the Republican Party by reconciling the goals of the modern welfare-regulatory state (e.g., poverty alleviation, environmental protection) – which are taken as politically sacrosanct – with certain “conservative” (i.e., free market and faith-based) means.  Even assuming that a compassionate conservative agenda is necessary for the Republican Party to be competitive in national or state-wide elections, the long-term effect of compassionate conservatism is to strengthen, not weaken, the liberal welfare-regulatory state, which in the end will overpower such conservative half-measures.
The bottom line is that, as a political party, the Republican Party can play only a limited role in any project to spread conservatism among the American people.  At best, the Republican Party can act as a brake on the worst excesses of the Democratic Party.  But in the absence of a transcendental leader like Ronald Reagan, it has little ability to move public opinion back towards the conservative side of the political spectrum. 
Significantly, liberals invest much less of their ideological energy in the Democratic Party than conservatives do in the Republican Party.  For liberals, their ideological work is being done every day by reporters, teachers, movie stars, activist judges, and left-wing interest groups like the ACLU.  A presidential campaign once every four years in which the Republican candidate mouths some conservative platitudes is hardly sufficient to counter these forces.  Conservatives need to develop other vehicles, besides the Republican Party, for getting their message out to the American people.                                   
The Future Of Our Country Is At Stake.                       
In 20 years time, will our country be free, dynamic, prosperous, and strong – or anxious, oppressive, stagnant, and weak?  The answer ultimately depends on whether a majority of Americans embrace the core values and beliefs of conservatism or liberalism.  Ideology – not population size or geography or natural resources – is at the heart of our success or failure as a nation.
With the stinging defeat of the 2006 midterm elections still fresh in our minds, it is time for conservatives to face facts.  The American people are being inundated by liberal propaganda, from the schools, media, Hollywood, and courts, which is pushing the country towards a collectivist, multicultural, “politically correct” future.  We see it happening all around us.  Clearly, existing conservative voices, institutions, and strategies, while important, are not enough to stop this trend.  So conservatives need to start thinking in bigger and bolder terms.  Conservatives need to find a way to bring conservatism back to the American people.  How?  I believe by reaching out directly to the public – and bypassing the liberal guardians in the schools, media, and Hollywood – and (re)educating the American people about the conservative principles that made this country great:  limited government, private property, free enterprise, personal responsibility, strong national defense, and patriotism.  It can be done.  But conservatives need to get started right away.  Before it is too late.
Steven M. Warshawsky can be reached at smwarshawsky@hotmail.com.

Reagan and the Art of Leadership

Reagan and the Art of Leadership
By Jeffrey Lord
Published 12/12/2006 12:08:40 AM

It was the early 1980s and Ronald Reagan was under assault.

Yet instead of buckling Reagan wound up providing a classic case study in presidential leadership

As President Bush’s Iraq policy and his goal of victory comes under merciless attack from the non-believers, doubters, and skeptics in official and unofficial Establishment Washington, it is worth a look back at how Reagan led America to the land of lower taxes and great prosperity. It wasn’t easy.

While the subject was taxes, it could just as easily have been something else Reagan believed in because his leadership abilities were so frequently on display. But the tax example is particularly relevant today because in recounting this story I have turned for a refresher to With Reagan, the memoirs of Reagan aide and later Attorney General Edwin Meese, currently in the news as a member of the controversial Iraq Study Group.

Elected in a 44-state landslide over President Jimmy Carter, in no small part because of the Democrat’s abysmal handling of the economy that had saddled the nation with double-digit unemployment, interest rates, and inflation, Reagan vowed change. The change was the then “radical” doctrine of supply-side economics, a philosophy that correctly understood that low taxes were the key to a sound and thriving economy.

In retrospect the easiest part of implementing these changes was getting them passed through a Democrat-controlled House. (Republicans, on Reagan’s coattails, then ran the Senate.) The Reagan landslide had gotten the attention of the opposition, and there were in fact votes to be found for the President’s plan even in the belly of liberal Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill’s House. Working the phones relentlessly, aided by a boost in popularity owing to his conduct in a near-fatal assassination attempt, the President’s tax cuts passed.

Reagan proudly signed them into law in a fog-shrouded ceremony at his ranch on August 17, 1981. Then came the hard part.

Federal spending kept going, and the difficulties in roping it in became apparent to the Reagan team, as Ed Meese freely acknowledges. But what was particularly notable was a new discovery that Meese describes this way:

Related to this, on my part as well as on the President’s, was the assumption that everyone on the Reagan team had a similar view of the problems we faced and a similar commitment to solve them, whatever the difficulties. My approach was that we all knew what the President wanted and that our job was simply to go out and do it. But as later became apparent, various members of our team thought otherwise.

In other words, even as the President was suddenly fighting to keep his newly-enacted tax cuts from being upended before they had even kicked in, there were those within his own administration who tried to sabotage his efforts. How did this manifest itself in real terms? Reagan’s own Budget Director, David Stockman, again per Meese, “secretly decided we should give up on the Reagan program. His feelings were not expressed in cabinet meetings, but became abundantly plain as events unfolded. From a fairly early point, Stockman decided it was his mission, not to support Reagan’s tax reduction program, but to maneuver the President into backing away from it.”

Stockman wasn’t alone, either. He was but one member of the so-called “Baker group.” (Yes, of course, that would be Baker as in then White House Chief of Staff James A. Baker III, currently of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq study.) Another was Baker aide Richard Darman. Meese points to the book Gambling with History, an account of the early Reagan years by Time magazine’s Laurence Barrett, where confidential memoranda prepared by Stockman and Darman show conclusively that members of the President’s own senior staff had decided for themselves “that tax rate reductions would be calamitous for the economy and (began) setting to work surreptitiously to change the program.”

SO WHAT DID THE “Baker group” do? They had come to the conclusion, Meese says, that the President needed to be “educated” on the failure of his tax-cutting policy, a sentiment that is now rampant in Washington with regard to Bush and Iraq. But how does a White House staffer see to it that the President he is serving is undercut? How does Washington actually go about cutting a President down to size when he has the audacity to go against the (almost always wrong) conventional wisdom?

First, you try and isolate the President. Make as certain as you can that he — and everyone else — comes to believe he is the only person left who believes in his own policy. In the Reagan example this meant that Darman and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Michael Deaver, a key member of the Baker group, went out of their way to control the “human and documentary” traffic into the president. In Reagan’s case this meant that supply-side believers like Congressman Jack Kemp were denied access to Reagan. Instead, business leaders who favored a compromise on tax cuts were ushered into the President’s presence.

Then the media was brought into play, as this internal cabal fed stories to favored journalists who hungered for a way to grind their liberal axes against the Reagan Revolution. Stockman even gave lengthy interviews to liberal journalist William Greider for a story in the Atlantic, telling the only too-delighted Greider that “supply-side is just trickle-down” economics, the entire Reagan program nothing more than a “Trojan horse” to give tax breaks to the rich.

The cry was immediate among Reaganites on the staff for the President to fire Stockman. Graciously, he did not — but the only member of the senior staff to urge the President not to fire Stockman was…Jim Baker.

The fat was in the fire, however, and the idea of, again in Meese’s words, “government by leak” really took off. Washington was virtually inundated with stories that the President was the only one in his administration, not to mention Washington, who just didn’t understand reality. For example, there was a story in (where else?) the New York Times that said there was now a “full-scale battle” underway “for the soul of the Reagan administration and the mind of Ronald Reagan,” a battle designed to convince Reagan to give up on his tax cuts. Washington Post columnist Joseph Kraft reported that various members of the President’s own staff were trying to bring Reagan out of his “dream world.” Columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak said the President had “to fight better than two-thirds of his economic team to save his program.”

Writes Meese of the media blitz by the president’s own people against their chief: “Daily stories filled the media, quoting various ‘aides,’ ‘senior officials,’ and ‘advisors to the President’ to the effect that he would have to change his course if the nation was to avert disaster.”

WHAT WAS REAGAN’S REACTION to all of this? He never flinched. Sometimes he used humor to deflect the criticism, repeatedly telling the story of the two boys who were an optimist and a pessimist. The pessimist, he said, was shown into a room piled high with toys, yet within minutes was in tears, having broken them all. The optimist is shown into a room filled with manure and joyfully starts digging. When asked why he’s so happy, the optimistic boy replies that with all this manure “there has to be a pony down here somewhere.” But behind the Reagan humor was the steel of real leadership. “No retreat,” he snapped on one occasion as he was being pressured for the umpteenth time by a staff member. “I will stand by my word,” he insisted on another occasion.

And he did. Believing that policy should drive process and not the reverse, Ronald Reagan successfully resisted all the nay-sayers in Congress, the media — and most importantly, his own administration. The results, as they say, are now history. Reagan was proved right. By 1983 the economy came roaring to life, as, more or less, it has remained to this day.

While this episode involved taxes, Reagan’s leadership qualities were repeatedly on display when dealing with issues that touched his core principles and beliefs. Again and again, whether it was tax cuts, the deployment of Pershing missiles in Europe, preserving the Strategic Defense Initiative or walking out of the Reykjavik Summit with Mikhail Gorbachev, Reagan simply ignored the deafening chorus of his critics. These are moments worth remembering now as the rubber meets the road on President Bush’s Iraq policy. As with Reagan, the media is filled with stories that have alleged presidential allies (and advisers to Bush 41) discussing the President they serve or nominally support with an eye rolling contempt. There is no small irony that many of these same people not only advised the Gerald Ford and Bush 41 presidencies to humiliating failure but tried — and failed — to do the same with Reagan, the latter simply refusing to listen to them. As with Reagan there is an attempt to have process (having the Baker-Hamilton group reach “consensus”) drive policy, heedless of whether the consensus is wrong, or worse, as the Iraqi president has quickly realized, “dangerous.”

At the end of all this is the realization of just what true presidential leadership demands: the ability to stick to core convictions on the most important issues of the day — and not retreat under the veritable hailstorm of criticism that follows. It is the one decided pattern that links the presidencies of those considered to be America’s best presidential leaders, from Lincoln to the Roosevelts, from Truman to Reagan.

RONALD REAGAN UNDERSTOOD WHAT it meant to be a real leader. He “got it,” and because he did his presidency, once written off by caustic critics of the day as a failure, is now rated as one of the greatest.

The fate of Iraq — and the future of both America and the West — is increasingly in the hands of one man, a man increasingly being isolated by the media and the Establishment in his belief that only victory will do. Alone like Reagan, one hopes that with his core convictions on the line George W. Bush will remember the trials of Ronald Reagan and the gritty positive attitude that epitomized Reagan’s leadership, a leadership that led to eventual — and spectacular — triumph in so many areas.

It’s worth remembering as well Reagan’s daring view about of the Cold War, a view that sent shudders through the Establishment of the 1980s. It is a view the Iraq Study Group apparently — if typically — refused to consider right from the start.

What was that view?

“We win, they lose.”

Exactly, Mr. President.

Searching for the Gipper

 

Searching for the Gipper


by Doug Patton

 

Is there another Ronald Reagan on the horizon for 2008, a leader who can rally the coalitions that gave Reagan an eight-year mandate? Let’s examine (in alphabetical order) some of the most frequently mentioned Republican presidential candidates. Just for fun, let’s create a one-to-ten “Gipper meter.” Ten would be a Republican leader of Reagan’s experience, stature, vision and charisma. One would be Lincoln Chaffee.

 

Sam Brownback – The young congressman from Kansas who replaced Bob Dole in the U.S. Senate has championed the cause of social conservatism in the upper body of the congress. This has made him a hero among so-called values voters, who find precious few senators from either party willing to fight for their issues. Compared with Reagan, Brownback would rate at least a seven or eight for ideology, but would only get a two or three for experience and charisma, thereby rendering him a mediocre five overall at best.

 

Bill Frist – The now-retired U.S. Senator from Tennessee has created about as much excitement as a potential presidential candidate as he did as senate majority leader. In other words, he is boring and has accomplished little. His rating on the Gipper meter: two.

 

Newt Gingrich – The former speaker of the house probably comes closer than anyone on the current scene to living up to the experience, stature and vision of Ronald Reagan, and what Newt lacks in charisma, he more than makes up for in knowledge and debate skills. I would give him an eight on the Gipper meter.

 

Rudy Giuliani – America’s mayor, as he was dubbed in the days following the 9/11 attacks, is greatly admired for his courage and leadership during that time, and as the man who cleaned up New York City. In stature and charisma, he rates a ten on the Gipper meter. For vision, he would get a five. Ideologically, especially on social issues, he is very liberal and therefore rates a zero in that area. His electability in a general election campaign is probably off the charts. In the primaries, however, he will never make the grade.

 

Chuck Hagel – The senior senator from Nebraska has so alienated his core constituents by imitating his hero, John McCain, that he probably could not get reelected to his current position, let alone win a Republican presidential primary. He thinks he is a Reagan conservative. Voters will let him know otherwise if he runs for president. He has charisma, and little else, except ego. I give him a one on the Gipper meter.

 

Mike Huckabee – The slimmed-down governor of Arkansas shares much of Reagan’s vision, as well as his values, but his charisma, experience and stature are lacking. Overall, a three on the meter.

 

John McCain – The architect of the incumbent protection act (laughingly called campaign finance reform) and of the senate’s gang of fourteen, which prevented the GOP leadership from exercising the constitutional option that would have shut down Democrat filibusters of judicial appointments, the senior senator from Arizona has spit in the eye of the Republican base just once too often. His political experience is strictly as a congressional compromiser. He is irritating and visionless. I would give McCain a two on the Gipper meter.

 

George Pataki – The governor of New York is Rudy Giuliani without the charisma. A zero on the meter.

 

Mitt Romney – The governor of Massachusetts is an unknown entity to most of the country. He has the charisma, the experience (Americans tend to elect governors to the presidency) and the vision. If he turns out to be as conservative as he wants us to believe he is, and if he can overcome the fact that he is a Mormon with evangelical voters, he could position himself as the next Ronald Reagan.

 

Come to think of it, there was only one Ronald Reagan, and we may never see his equal again.

 

© Copyright 2006 by Doug Patton

 

Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a political speechwriter and public policy advisor. His weekly columns are published in newspapers across the country and on selected Internet web sites, including Human Events Online, TheConservativeVoice.com and GOPUSA.com, where he is a senior writer and state editor. Readers may e-mail him at dougpatton@cox.net.

 

The opinions expressed in this column represent those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, or philosophy of TheRealityCheck.org

First Say Nothing, Then Say Thanks

First Say Nothing, Then Say Thanks
By Quin Hillyer
Published 11/22/2006 12:09:10 AM

This being Thanksgiving week, it might be a good idea to abide by the old maxim that if you can’t say anything nice about certain people, then don’t say anything at all. Hence, with regard to the remaining Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives — who just suffered a bad election defeat from a public fed up with their ethics and big spending and, in short with their leadership — who last week ignored the public lessons of the election and obstinately re-elected basically the same leadership team: Please excuse 12 lines of empty space, which is my way of not saying anything at all.

Okay, now, as for the radical leftists who make up the leadership of the majority party in Congress, the Democrats, if I were to take enough space to say enough of nothing about them, it would take a whole page of blank space, maybe more — which is more than readers should have to endure. So let these two blank lines represent the pages of nothing that should be said about the Democratic leadership:

Okay, now we can move on to those things that we Americans have to be thankful for. Our cup runneth over, to such an extent that we as a society probably have become so spoiled that we don’t even realize our good fortune. Nevertheless, among the things for which we should be thankful are:

1. Our heritage of freedom, secured through the mind, character, bravery and foresight of men such as Madison, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Sherman, Mason, and Wilson.

2. The strongest, most abundant economy in the history of the world. Don’t argue, just look at the numbers on unemployment (low), inflation (low), productivity (high), wages (growing), interest rates (low), home ownership (high), home values (high), gas prices (back within reason), securities ownership (high), securities values (the highest Dow Jones Industrial Average in history), average personal net worth (very high), and on and on. Stop whining; just give thanks.

3. Physical security: other than the bizarre anthrax mailings of late 2001, not a single successful terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. Crime rates that by the standards of the last 50 years are low. And no conventionally organized military in the world that can hold a candle to the brave men and women of the U.S. armed forces, heroes every one of them by very virtue of volunteering to wear our uniforms.

4. A world with more liberty than at any time in history, which is the modern legacy of Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Thatcher, Walesa, Kohl, Havel, and others (including, let us not forget, Scoop Jackson and political heirs of his such as Lane Kirkland).

5. The kindness of strangers. While government at the local, state, and federal levels still fumbles its response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the armies of private contributors and volunteers, especially through churches, have provided effective and invaluable relief to the people of the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama coasts. (Exempted from the criticism of government, and in spirit included in the praise for private entities, are the U.S. Coast Guard and state and federal Fish & Wildlife departments whose immediate post-Katrina services were awe-inspiring.)

6. Milton Friedman. His 94 years of life ended last week. The lessons of liberty he taught will last for lifetimes. R.I.P.

There. That’s a good list with which to start. The list could and should grow much larger. Take a moment and add your own entries to it. And direct your thanks to the Author of all our blessings, the Father of us all.

Quin Hillyer is a senior editor of The American Spectator. He can be reached at qhillyer@gmail.com.

Proretrogressives and the Last Wake-up Call

Proretrogressives and the Last Wake-up Call

by Erik Rush

erush2.jpg (4654 bytes)

 

“What’s the point? They’re all crooks.”
     – My father, on voting.

As the U.S. Capitol custodial staff scrubs bloody chunks of the Republicans’ former majority from chamber walls, the more informed among us are left to our (hopefully more informed) conjecture. Have we moved into another dark age of far-Left preeminence, or will the Democrat leadership crash and burn, engendering even more disgust and disappointment in voters than existed two weeks ago, thus turning the tables yet again?

Should the latter occur anytime within the next, oh, two to four years, it is evident that Americans will no longer tolerate Republican politicians who transmogrify into Democrats as soon as they attain a majority; the midterm election was all the proof we need of that.

Q: How do you turn a Republican into a Democrat?
A: Get them elected.

Not any more. And well it should be. “Death to the RINOs! [Republicans In Name Only]” is a call I’ve been hearing a lot over the last week or so in varying forms.

“Proretrogressives”, I believe, is an apt designation for what the Democrat leadership has become – for the moment. A year ago, no one but their base would have voted for them in the numbers they did on November 7. The Democrat leadership figured out that they needed to appear more centrist to retake the Capitol – and it worked. Their international socialist agenda remains the same, however: They will continue to press for suicidal economic and social programs and policies at home, and continue to smooch the buttocks of the likes of Kim Jong-Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other profoundly dangerous enemies of the U.S. – as they have for the last 40 years. The American people will suffer the consequences; they’ve got fat pensions, bunkers and stored food prepared for Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy and their RINO bedfellows.

Perhaps they’ll suggest that America convert to radical Islam en masse. That, after all is the only alternative to annihilation or victory. It is sad that the Democrat majority left to their own devices will ultimately force the U.S. into the position of having to incinerate several million misled souls in order to save ourselves. When we get backed into that corner, someone’s going to start pressing buttons, no matter which party is in charge. We are already in a more precarious position than we were concerning the Japanese threat in World War II; far Left politicians and the media are the reason most Americans are shielded from this fact.

At times like these I’m grateful for my faith. Were it not for that, I might have concluded that the majority of Americans truly are morons and there was little I or the combined efforts of all like-minded could do to stem the tide of socialism and the cult of ignorance that has insinuated itself into the American collective mind.

When I hear Rosie O’Donnell’s pathetically ignorant blather (on ABC’s The View) about not walking through life “afraid of anyone who thinks different than you” and instructing Americans not to fear terrorists because “they’re mothers and fathers,” images of human beings falling from the Twin Towers spring immediately into my mind’s eye. I experience a near-overwhelming urge to leap through the television screen with a macheté. Although I imagine this makes me a “right-wing hater” in the eyes of some, my view is that enemies foreign and domestic are enemies nonetheless, and if the Left is determined to use the First Amendment to destroy America, then the Right deserves a little latitude as well.

Then, again my faith re-affirms itself: Chopping up Rosie O’Donnell wouldn’t solve much in the long run and would only harm the cause in which I believe. It would be a spiritually unsound action, and society severely frowns on such things. Then there’s the bothersome reality of causing myself injury and demolishing my television in the attempt.

I don’t believe that Independent voters honestly fear conservatives imposing a theocracy any more than they believe proretrogressives want to tax us into subsistence mode, enslave us to sensualism, and culturally engineer us into something less than human. The latter is far closer to the truth – but it is the character of swing-voter types not to analyze politics as deeply as affiliated voters. Fifty years of Democrat-fostered failed social programs, economic irresponsibility and state-sponsored cultural subversion were apparently not enough to convince them we didn’t need more of it, despite the substandard performance of Republican leaders over the last few years.

So – a few things have to happen if America is to survive – and the stakes are no less than that:

1. Conservatives have to be prepared to descend upon the opposition with all vigor when their shortcomings manifest, much in the same way the Left has done over the last six years.

2. Republicans voters need to wake up. We must do all we can to get nothing but fire-breathing conservatives nominated in primary elections.

3. Republican politicians need to wake up. If you’re not a fire-breathing conservative, get the hell out of the party. The GOP still has the best fundamental ideas; it’s the culture of self-seeking personal aggrandizement which must be excised from the party. The voters are the only ones who can accomplish this. RINOs can aid them by switching parties or becoming carnival barkers.

4. A grass-roots effort must be made targeting the fifty-percent of eligible voters who don’t vote. The law of averages dictates we’ll get at least 40% of them.

5. Additionally, a grass-roots effort on the part of conservatives must be made targeting people in the inner cities – particularly minorities – who have been steeped in the Leftist culture of victimization, class envy and ignorance. It’s time they learned who’s been whoring them out and give them a real chance to escape their cycle socioeconomic malaise.

6. As far as foreign policy goes, a grass-roots effort on the part of conservatives must be made to inform Americans as to the clear and present dangers we face. If they don’t know – and they won’t find out from Hollywood, Nancy Pelosi or the media – they won’t respond.

By the way: “Grass roots” means people, not lobbyist organizations, 501c(3)s or 527s. The time for timidity has passed. Ripping progressives’ heads off and punting them into the stratosphere at every opportunity in the public arena – figuratively, of course – with superior logic and wisdom must become our modus operandi. Lingering RINO thieves and perverts must be thrown to the lions. We can’t afford them.

Most Americans cannot conceptualize the dark vision much of the world has for us – a vision the far Left either denies or condones. The wake-up call has come. It’s time for true patriots to get to work, wherever they happen to be.

 

 

Erik Rush is a New York-born columnist and author who writes a weekly column of political fare. He is also Acting Associate Editor and Publisher for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. An archive containing links to his writing is at www.ErikRush.com . His new book, “It’s the Devil, Stupid!” is available through most major outlets. His new book, Annexing Mexico, is scheduled for release shortly.