Archive for January, 2012

Too little, too late

January 16, 2012

A reply I posted to Erick Erickson’s article in Red State on the evangelical leaders voting to support Santorum. 

So sad…debating whether it’s about economics or social issues. Debating whether someone can win or not. Evangelicals had someone running who could tackle the economic and social issues and who could win: Bachmann.  But they blew it.  They sat on their hands…and their sexism…asked her to leave the race…wrote emails (Santorum) about how children would be harmed by her candidacy and how women didn’t belong in the Oval Office…and, frankly, blew it. Oh, and let’s not forget the undiluted damage done by evangelicals themselves, like Thune, a fellow Biola graduate, who endorsed Romney. I now have no doubt that the historic first of a woman president will go to the Democrats because they are not shackled by principle.

I didn’t support Bachmann because she is a woman. I supported this articulate, knowledgeable debater because she is solidly conservative and has a stellar record fighting the establishment. The fact that she is a woman is a bonus and offered the GOP the chance to say, “See, we aren’t doing the same old thing we’ve always done.” She was also the only one in the values forum who said in no uncertain terms that she asked Christ into her life. The others talked about their church membership. Perry came the next closest, but she was the only one who acknowledged that she was saved by grace.

Steve Deace, in a Townhall article in December said it well regarding why Christians haven’t had a single policy victory in over 30 years, “We debated who COULD win instead of who SHOULD win.” No matter who gets the nomination, I believe the Republican candidate will lose, and lose badly. Go ahead, blame me, but I have a feeling I won’t be the only one who won’t roll over and do the bidding of the GOP establishment, even in the face of another four years of Obama wrecking the country further. In 2008, I held my nose and voted for McCain. I can’t betray everything that I am again. I’m drawing a line in the sand. I cannot support any of the remaining candidates and will write in who SHOULD win.

Note:  Romney being Mormon has nothing to do with my non-support of him.  It has everything to do with Romneycare, my allergy to mandates, and his penchant for changing his position on virtually any subject based on how many votes it may get him. In other words, he is rudderless and doesn’t have a core of conviction (yes, I know, a not-so-subtle reference to Michele Bachmann’s book). As for Democrats not being “shackled by principle”, it’s meant to be sarcastic toward those evangelicals who may have rejected Bachmann “on principle” as a presidential candidate because she is a woman. And although many would scoff at such a notion, I believe there’s a lot more of it going on that one might  think.  So much for “too evangelical” Iowa.

The Evangelical Vote

Posted by Erick Erickson (Diary)

Monday, January 16th at 4:46AM EST

The evangelical movement might have just sown the first seeds of division for 2016 — seeds that, like in 2008 and 2012, prevented evangelicals from getting one of their own the nomination.

I had the privilege to attend the meeting of evangelicals in Texas this weekend.  Due to pressing matters before me Saturday I could not make the Saturday portion, but was there Friday hearing the advocacy for the candidates, the run down, etc.  I did not vote.

As with all meetings of Christian conservatives, we all pledge to have an off the record meeting and a handful of the sinners start leaking like sieves.  It is aggravating and typically why I never say a word in these meetings.

Since a few have decided to leak so many details from the meeting as background and anonymous sources, I want to clarify a few things from my perspective and I will do it decidedly on the record.

The first thing you need to know is that taking shots at Tony Perkins for his statements this weekend is both ignorant and wrong.  Tony was selected to speak for the group as a whole and he has done a tremendous job reflecting the views of the consensus whether they are his or not.  He didn’t really volunteer as much as he was chosen (I cannot have been the only Presbyterian there) and he has done his job ably.

The second thing you should note is that I personally view the state of the Christian conservative movement poorly.  It is such an honor and privilege to be in the same room with James Dobson.  Truth be told, I’ve been in the room with him several times and have yet to work up the courage to meet a man who has meant so much to my wife and me.  Hopefully I’ll work up the courage one of these days.

But Dobson and the other men and women in the room exemplify my problem with the state of the Christian conservative movement — it is getting really old and I do not yet see authentic, strong voices rising up to succeed these pioneers.  I take it as a good sign that these men picked Tony Perkins as their spokesman.  In the generation that bridges the gap, Perkins is one of the few honest brokers and genuinely authentic good guys in the evangelical community and conservative movement as a whole.

A great deal of the passionate, younger voices of the Christian conservative movement are focused on Christ and not politics.  While that’s a far better position to focus on, I fear the Christian conservative movement is going to be handed down to a few good young men and women surrounded by others with less sincere intentions — people who advocate people and positions in furtherance of things other than Christ’s Kingdom.  The up and comers will have to rely on men like Tony Perkins to avoid irrelevance and charlatans both.

The third thing you should know about this weekend is just how well the Gingrich and Santorum camps handled themselves and how poorly the Perry and Romney camps handled themselves.  I won’t even get into the advocacy on behalf of Ron Paul, which didn’t go well.

There was a decidedly sympathetic view toward Rick Santorum going into the meeting.  He has been one of the leading advocates for socially conservative views.  They like him on that.  I was, frankly, stunned that even when some of the people chosen to speak objectively about the field pointed out that this will be an election about economics, the crowd really was focused on social concerns.

I won’t go into quotes from the men who advocated for the various candidates.  Even on the record here, I want to respect the organizers’ wishes more than others have on background, but both Santorum’s advocate and Gingrich’s advocate (each candidate had someone to speak for them) did those men a great service.  The Santorum pitch was largely focused on what he had done for the movement, including for the babies.  The Gingrich pitch really reflected what Jonah Golberg wrote recently in his column about Newt.  If you think the end of the world is nigh, you want the Churchill, not the technocrat.

Rick Perry had a lot of supporters in the crowd, but too few who thought he could win and many who want him to get out and endorse Gingrich or possibly Santorum before South Carolina votes.  His advocate, a friend, was not as well prepared as the others, but many in the crowd did speak up for him.

The Romney advocacy did more harm than good and I think the biggest story to come out of this event has to be both the hostility between evangelicals and Team Romney and the absolute endorsement for “Not Romney.”

If you are reading this from the media, I think the story you should tell is that Mitt Romney will probably become the nominee of the Republican Party with even less good feelings between evangelicals and him than John McCain had.

The problem for Team Romney is that the distrust of Romney is overwhelmingly about his record and shiftiness, but the Romney campaign fundamentally believes it is about his religion.  When Team Romney concluded the pitch (read from an iPad seemingly without a passionate delivery) with an admonishment to not be an anti-Mormon bigot, it was game over.  Several of the attendees felt like the Romney campaign was almost implying that they’d win without evangelicals and would expect everyone to line up when it was over even without Romney reaching out.

Note to Team Romney: when you are in a room full of Christian leaders like those who were in that room and who have all long been attacked by the left as bigots, it is unwise — no, it is damn foolish — to accuse them of being anti-Mormon bigots, something too many Romney supporters have descended to as the only possible explanation for daring to not get on board with Romney.

It’s interesting that the outreach concerns are so universal.  Inside the conservative blogosphere, among social conservatives, and among specifically the evangelical community there is a great deal of concern that, unlike John McCain, once the Romney camp has it in the bag they’ll go off to woo independents and leave smoldering or un-repaired bridges back to the base.

As to the vote itself, there was a consensus, but not as strong as the reported vote would have you believe.  According to several I talked to who were still there for the vote, it was divided with many thinking Gingrich is the only one who can win and many not sure they want to hitch a wagon to the Gingrich train.  On this, there is no difference inside and outside the evangelical community.

What gets me is that given Rick Santorum’s polling in South Carolina, his funding and campaign apparatus, the admonition from one influential person that Santorum doesn’t have the campaign to run for President, etc. separate reports suggest a number of  people present decided to vote for Santorum not to beat Romney, but to be Romney’s running mate — something that most likely will not happen.

At this point, a vote for Santorum really does help Mitt Romney, but few are willing to acknowledge that.  When given the chance to beat Romney, I was kind of shocked by the people who were already reconciled to his win, though that was not the majority view.  Most want to fight till the end, fight to the convention, broker a convention, or do anything else to stop Romney.  But by voting for Santorum, the group largely undercut more serious efforts waged by Gingrich to stop Romney and, even more troubling if Romney is the nominee and loses, potentially sets up a claim by Rick Santorum, a man who will have been out of office a decade by then, to be the 2016 front runner.

In a year when we could possibly see Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Rick Scott, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and others, the evangelical movement might have just sown the first seeds of division for 2016 — seeds that, like in 2008 and 2012, prevented evangelicals from getting one of their own the nomination.

That brings up a problem with the evangelical movement within the political sphere — it is often poorly advised on strategy and cuts short term deals that undermine long term goals.  But that’s a topic for another day.

As I read Erickson’s close, I can’t help but think of Deace’s article (again) in noting the failure of Christians to enjoy a single policy victory in over 30 years–that is, that Christians began to think of themselves as sovereign over the process, instead of God. I believe God will honor evangelicals’ votes if they put it in God’s hands. Maybe not in the way that evangelicals would like, perhaps. And, not in Erickson’s view apparently. He feels it lies entirely with strategy which has gotten us exactly nowhere in 30 years. I’ve thought for a long time that the way we’re going to change people’s minds regarding abortion is by bringing them to the saving knowledge of Christ–one heart at a time. Perhaps that applies to politics in general as well. When Christians were being killed in the Roman arenas, some may have prayed that God would destroy the arenas, or even the rulers and raise up one of their own, but instead, history saw a slow implosion and contraction of an entire political empire–in stunning comparison to the explosive spread of the message of Jesus. God heard the pleas of the oppressed, I believe, and answered them, but definitely not in the way that any human may have guessed. 


Days until Obama is reelected: 303 UPDATE: 296

January 6, 2012

Thanks, Iowa, you really manned up.

With Bachmann out, America has lost its last, best chance for beating Obama. What are we left with? The same old tired candidates the Republican party has always offered up, demonstrating that Republicans have not learned a thing from 2008, and are utterly unable to think, or vote outside the White Male Candidate box.  It doesn’t matter who they put up, Republicans are toast. Is it really any stretch of the imagination that Obama’s campaign can easily point to any of the remaining Republicans (and I’m not including Huntsman, who is a Democrat, or Paul is who is a foreign policy nightmare) might become the nominee and say that person’s administration won’t be the same old establishment thing the Republicans have always done? Gee, I wonder how many undecided voters will find that appealing. With the whiners still crying about 2000’s “illegal” election, they’ll lap that up and the p2s will tweet that ad infinitum. #sameoldthing. Barring a disaster that again showcases Obama’s ineptitude and inertness, he will easily win reelection. I believe Romney’s defeat will be spectacular, something on the order of Dukakis’.

No, I don’t support Bachmann because she is a woman.  I support her because she most closely reflects my views and she has a solid record of fighting the establishment. Furthermore, she’s authentic, inspirational, knowledgeable and articulate and never had an oops moment in a debate. The fact that she is a woman offered the Republican party something new and fresh that would show that the GOP isn’t the #sameoldthing. Cain, who I don’t believe was ready to be president, also offered that glimmer of hope.

However, I have come to realize that sexism in the Republican party is rampant and perhaps, insurmountable.  I recently learned that Santorum’s campaign sent out an email (after Bachmann’s announcement) noting, in so many words, a woman’s proper place remained in the home and not in the Oval Office. To say that makes my blood boil is mild. If I was unsure about Santorum before, which I was, I’m sure now that I would never vote for him–and yes, even against Obama (mostly because I believe voting against someone never works, just voting for someone). Coupled with the pastors who asked her to step down…I’m beside myself. Nowhere does the Bible say that women shouldn’t be in leadership. Deborah, anyone? While rare, it’s not forbidden. The only thing the Bible specifically speaks to is that women should not exercise scriptural or spiritual authority over men, in other words, doing scriptural exposition in mixed groups that include men. We have women speak in our church all the time.  As long as they’re not interpreting scripture with men sitting in the audience, I don’t have a problem with it.

These pastors who asked her to stand down are the worst kind of sexists. You expect the rest of the world to be sexist, but Christians achieve the greatest freedom through Christ. Evangelicals should have been enthusiastically behind Bachmann 100%.  So much for Iowa being “too evangelical”. As a side note, the fact that Iowa went with Romney, who wasn’t supposed to do anything in Iowa and instead, won, tells me that Iowa has become much more moderate and/or secular since four years ago when Huckabee won. Furthermore, the deafening silence toward and lack of support of Bachmann from supposed conservative warriors like DeMint, or Thune, a fellow Biola graduate who endorsed Romney, sickens me. 

There’s only one other person I’ve supported who has demonstrated a similar unwavering commitment to conservative values, and that is Chuck DeVore (@chuckdevore on Twitter) who has literally been the lone wolf decrying and voting against bloated, tax-raising, earmarked California budgets as a state assemblyman. And when he ran for the U.S. Senate, who endorsed unknown, big-business “electable” candidate Carly Fiorina over DeVore?  Santorum and Palin. And that’s why Santorum and Palin are both on my will-never-support list.  When Santorum had a chance to show what he’s made of and endorse a true conservative with a solid record, he went with the “electable” one who went on to lose badly to that scourge on society, Barbara Boxer. And so, folks, Santorum’s like all the rest of ’em. These days, DeVore is moving to Texas for better opportunities. As California descends into the septic tank of liberal, anti-business, exponential regulatory and tax bloat policies, it’s Texas’ gain and California’s loss.

I am re-registering as a conservative because one, the election is already lost, and two, Republicans are hopelessly mired in the past.  I have no doubt the first woman president will not be a Republican. The Democrats will easily claim that historic first because they are not shackled by principle. This election, there is literally no one for me to vote for. Four years ago, at the urging of family and friends who said look at the alternative, I held my nose and voted for McCain.  I can’t do that this time.  I just can’t.  As for me, Steve Deace said it well in a article, we “debated who could win instead of who should win.”

Will President Obama Fool America Again?

By Aaron Goldstein, on January 3rd, 2012

To paraphrase Pete Townshend of The Who, “Meet the new year; same as the old year.” (1)

That was my reaction to Andy McCarthy’s New Years Eve article at National Review Online about President Obama recruiting Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi to mediate secret peace talks between the United States and the Taliban. (2) As McCarthy notes Qaradawi issued a fatwa exhorting Muslims to kill U.S. troops in Iraq.

For President Obama to ask Qaradawi to act in America’s interests in Afghanistan would be like asking Hell’s Angels to provide security at a White House concert; asking Michael Vick to take Bo out for a walk or asking Jerry Sandusky to babysit prepubescent male children.

But even if Obama hadn’t sought out Qaradawi that still leaves the secret negotiations with the Taliban. The idea that our armed forces spent more than ten years fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan only for President Obama to legitimize and leave with them in power in the vain hope that they, like the Muslim Brotherhood, will become a largely secular organization is an insult to our military’s duty, heroism and sacrifice. It would be like our forces leaving Japan with Tojo still in power after bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then again, it was President Obama who wanted to apologize to Japan for Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2009. (3) Fortunately, the Japanese government had the good sense to put the kibosh on such impropriety and imprudence.

Suffice it to say, I am not surprised that President Obama sees fit to negotiate with the Taliban nor I am surprised that Obama thought it a good idea to ask Sheikh Qaradawi to intercede. After all, this is the President who was prepared to engage Iran, North Korea and Venezuela without precondition. This is the President whose administration saw fit to give guns to Mexican drug cartels. This is the President who thought it sensible to give in excess of half a billion dollars to the sinkhole known as Solyndra to manufacture overpriced solar panels no one wanted to buy. This is also the President who has accumulated more debt in less than three years in office than all his predecessors accumulated in 220 years.

And yet in ten months time, Americans might very well see fit to bestow Obama with another four years in office. Although Obama’s Gallup numbers are lower than those of Jimmy Carter at this stage of his Presidency, the White House’s current resident has some things going for him. As Charles Lane of The Washington Post notes:

On the plus side for Obama, majorities continue to like him personally and to describe him as honest and trustworthy. His foreign-policy ratings are strong, blunting the GOP’s traditional edge in that department. The man who presided over the demise of Osama bin Laden scored a phenomenal 63 percent approval rating on fighting terrorism in an early November Gallup poll. (4)

I would add to that a billion dollar war chest and a media that, despite its disappointment with him, is still largely sympathetic to his agenda. Put together, these assets are considerable and may prove to be insurmountable for any Republican challenger to overcome. At this point, Mitt Romney is considered the odds on favorite to win the GOP nomination despite the fact a critical mass of the conservative movement is at odds with him both personally and substantively. Yet with one Republican challenger after the other rising and falling while Romney stays steady, GOP activists might very well settle for the former Massachusetts Governor. But even if Republicans settle for Romney that doesn’t mean the rest of the country will be prepared to do the same.

Then again what if Ron Paul decides to run as a third party candidate should he fail to win the Republican nomination? Nothing would delight the Obama campaign more because not only would Paul’s presence help Obama in November he would make Obama look like Abraham Lincoln.

Of course it was Lincoln who famously said, “You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” Yet President Obama doesn’t need to fool all of the people to get re-elected. Whatever the sheer stupidity of negotiating with the Taliban, allowing Sheikh Qaradawi to mediate the negotiations, allowing weapons to get into the hands of Mexican drug cartels or accumulating record levels of debt, there will be a segment of the population that will not know or will not care about such details. They will only remember that Obama gave the order to kill Osama bin Laden even if Team Six did the heavy lifting. Even though bin Laden’s killing doesn’t end the threat of Islamic radical terrorism against the United States; for an American public weary of war, it might be just enough to get Obama over the finish line.

The big question facing America in 2012 is whether President Obama will be able to fool us again?





Aaron Goldstein writes about the things that pique his insatiable curiosity. In addition to politics, he is an aficionado of baseball, poetry, music and ketchup flavored potato chips. Aaron satiates his various appetites in Boston. | Aaron Goldstein | | Print | Category: Politics: General, Culture: Government, Elections & Political Parties, Terrorism, War on Terror