Monday, February 4, 2008

McCain About America, Romney About Romney, Huckabee Better Than Both, and Consider This/Super Tuesday Republican Run-Down

Before summarizing the remaining candidates, I just want to say two brief things: 1) I would vote for Mike Huckabee next month even if he averaged less than 10% tomorrow (which he won’t) and he has pulled out of the competition by then, IF HIS NAME IS STILL ON THE BALLOT, simply because he is the best presidential candidate of my 50-year life. And, he’s easily the most clear-headed conservative mind that America has seen in the past few years. And 2) I often disagree with John McCain, who probably has a Washington provincially distorted perspective. But John McCain is by far a more noble man than Mitt Romney. And, right or wrong, McCain acts and speaks in the interest of America. To me it appears that Romney acts and speaks in the interest of Mitt Romney.

That said, It has been a remarkable year. While there were once 9 Republican candidates for president, heading into tomorrow, Feb. 5, when 22 states will vote on delegates to the Republican National Convention, there are four remaining. The front-loading and compression of the process, has certainly made a dramatic difference in how it has played out, which is mostly regrettable, I think. There was a lot of speculation early on, about how that situation would play out. Mostly, it asked whether the early states be more or less important? It would seem to have been the latter. Certainly in previous presidential campaign seasons, the sorting out would have been farther along or over after the South Carolina primary, with only 1 or 2 left standing.

Perhaps the “frontrunner” perception has not had enough time to settle in between contests. The notion is a strange one to me. But, it’s no great surprise if I’m not typical. Someone I spoke with doubted the force of the tendency, but it seems undeniable that many fall in line behind what or whom they perceive a “winning.” Indeed, that is the whole idea of “momentum,” a sort of psychological centrifugal force. As I said, I have no sense of that. I’ve been voting for 32 years, and I’ve never moved my vote for a “winner” vs. whom I thought was the best candidate. In fact, Ronald Reagan was the only winner I ever voted for in a primary, and I had supported him from the start. The herd followed my sentiments, not vice-versa. In fact, I had voted for Reagan in a 1976 primary, when he was not the eventual winner, though he came close.

All of that said, I’ll say that I’m a supporter of Huckabee (whom the political chatterers also say will not be a winner) But Consider This: Huckabee has said that he’s in it until a candidate has the delegates to secure the nomination. That cannot even mathematically happen, tomorrow.Mitt Romney will likely watch more millions be flushes away, and tomorrow ning, find himself hopelessly far behind and not especially liked. If he finally decides that 100 million dollars, over 35 of it his own, is enough and drops out, what do the McCain haters do now, especially since many also hate Huckabee? They are the only ones left. That’s kind of amusing.

I’ll discuss the remaining 4 candidates, in order of unacceptability: how they stand, and how they’ve gone through the process:

Ron Paul
is a very interesting character. He is not a “nut” or any other similar description that many throw at him. Ron Paul is a plenty smart man. He is very exceptional, in that he discusses in detail many things that the others don’t discuss at all like, very notably, the integrity of money and the primacy of private not government effort in shaping the economy. That kind of talk is not at all apart from why he is called names decrying him as strange. He is strange in the sense of standing apart from a perspective constrained by conventional popular culture, which is fraught with foolish assumptions. Generally speaking, I hardly consider that a fault of any sort.

However, there is an element of that unique ideal that I can’t go along with. And, unlike the many differences I have with John McCain, for instance. This is one that I can’t pass off for the sake of any sort of greater good. It seems to me that the same sort of philosophical resolve that tethers Ron Paul to the virtue of sound currency and free and private commerce, has him philosophically blinkered with a foreign policy for America that amounts to a dereliction of duty relative to security and basic humanity. Of course, what he calls a “non-interventionist” foreign policy has nothing to do with the sort of Smithian Natural Law about the inherent principles of human commerce and wealth production and maintenance.

But, I fully understand his shyness about military adventurism and the temptation of military power and expansion. And, I understand the counsel of the American Founders to “avoid foreign entanglements,” and the paleo-conservative tradition of modest foreign policy. But, the very obvious problem to the non-philosophically blinkered who must make moral and prudent judgments about the real world, is that the evolution of technology has run full out from under a world where travel, transport, and communications across the ocean required a ship’s voyage of months or years. Today, men travel the world in a day and sound and video images are transmitted around the world in practically real time. As today’s threats of terrorism have vividly demonstrated, it is no longer a sufficient defense posture to wait and respond when cannonballs are lobbed onto a populated shore. Technology is such that a very few can pose a frightful danger to American life hatched on distant continents and delivered quickly and surreptitiously.

While I believe he is sincere and resolved as he is about other things, given today’s technology of travel, communications, and destructive force, Paul’s sort of non-interventionist prescription presents two HUGE problems:
1) it is an imprudent security risk. Paul frets military engagement with peoples’ who present no armies or navies to threaten American military power. So, what? None are required to impose great destruction. And
2) Yes, America has great power. Paul may insist that policing the world from tyrants is not American government’s business. But, no private agency has the power to do so. And a power held is a moral responsibility. It is a real question to ask when we are “intruding” (or building empire, as Paul likes to say) and when it is a moral responsibility to intervene against inhumanity. As I often ask, given today’s world, at what point does ignoring human abuse become something on the order of watching a sidewalk attack out your window and declining to get involved.
The first problem is an ostrich-head-in-the-sand question to an extreme degree. And, the second problem is an extreme degree of humanitarian responsibility. How close are we to treading into stark cowardice?

For these reasons, though Paul has all year been the philosophically clearest and most resolute candidate, what I see as his anachronistic human misjudgments are too severe, besides the fact that he is not especially skilled at personal engagement and encouragement with the public. So, though I think he is exceptionally clear and consistent, and should be an advisor in many areas, Ron Paul is the LAST Republican candidate that I want to see with presidential power.

Mitt Romney has constructed a black and white confession on definable issues, that I agree with over 90% of the time. But, I don’t feel that I have any sense of his heart and wonder if I possibly could. People accuse him of “flip-flopping” on issues of serious concern. Even if his changes were genuine, I am unimpressed with a potential leader who was ambiguous on grave issies well into his fifties. He’s obviously a smart man, which suggests not ambiguity but spectacular pliability. I believe conservatives need to “sell” conservative principle to traditionally ambiguous or antagonistic populations. If Romney was to any extent demonstrating that with his election in Massachusetts, he has disavowed all of that, now. Pliability, again?

Many conservatives are irrationally frantic about the possibility of John McCain as the Republican nominee. I just repeat what I said at the beginning: “I often disagree with John McCain, who probably has a Washington provincially distorted perspective. But John McCain is by far a more noble man than Mitt Romney. And, right or wrong, McCain acts and speaks in the interest of America. To me it appears that Romney acts and speaks in the interest of Mitt Romney.” Check these links: and I really would hate for my arm to be twisted to choose Romney over a Democrat.

As I have also said, John McCain has a philosophical disability. But, he’s a genuine man and American patriot, with plenty of conservative sentiments about spending and jusicial activism, for instance. He als favors tax reduction and reform. He undetrstands that the public has insisted on securing the border before, not after, anything else. And, he has supported restrained not activist judges. A good VP might nudge him away from sentimental errors. Again, “…right or wrong, McCain acts and speaks in the interest of America. To me it appears that Romney acts and speaks in the interest of Mitt Romney.” He wouldn’t be my first choice. But especially given the options, he is far from my last.

Mike Huckabee is a clear-headed and constitutional conservative who is prepared to effectively deal with 20th century realities. He won Iowa with months of face-to-face engagement of Iowa voters, which has not been possible in subsequent contests, though he nearly won again, in South Carolina. I will pick his name on any ballot in which he is a candidate. He has a sober and diligent heart, and offers real solutions to move America from problems that it has gotten itself into. Based on the evidence so far, I will be surprised if I see as good a candidate as he is, again. Hopefully, he has established a model.


Quiverdaddy said...

Mike Huckabee certainly has a bright political future ahead of him. Having survived the Clinton Attack Machine through three elections, he's already poised to be a significnt contributor to the 2008 GOP ticket. Hopefully as the nominee.

What will happen if he does not get the nomination and is not picked up as the VP? The GOP will lose. Period. SoCons are abandoning Romney in droves to support McCain and they woul dnot be doing so if Huckabee had not been ruthlessly trashed non-stop by the NeoLib media. If he is not a part of the election process after the primaries, I think a lot of SoCons will look elsewhere for a political home to represent their values.

Think about this: People aren't choosing Romney because they believe in him, they're choosing him because they believe a bunch of talk show hosts who have blown their credibility by trasing the remaining conservative, Mike Huckabee. Limbaugh's Lemmings will do his bidding on the logic that nobody could withstand the Romney-Talk Radio scorched earth strategy and come out as a viable candidate.

What they did not bank on is two things:

1. Huckabee would be tied for first or ahead of Romney in six states, causing the primary season to go on to the more conservative states in the Midwest.

2. Huckabee's supporters recognize a dump job when they see one and they're not swayed by Romney's unethical and immoral campaign tactics.

Who would have thought millions of SoCons would gum up the works for the NeoLibs by doing something so foolish as standing on their principles.

Cindy said...

Thank you Mr. Perrault for your blog, which I've been reading for some time. I find myself saying, "uh-huh, that's right, 'zactly," agreeing with you 100%. Huckabee inspires me, as do people like you who appreciate his uniqueness and enthusiastically proclaim it, though the media, pundits and so on do not. I, too, will vote for him as long as his name's on the ballot.

Larry said...

Whoever is nominated if it isn't Huckabee, will HAVE to make a grandiose gesture to social conservatives, who provide all of the elbow grease for Republican elections. I just hope they don't tey to slide by with a Thompson. Thompson got the NRLC endorsement back when they thought Huckabee didn't have a chance.

But, Thompson was acting. He's little more conservative than McCain and he doesn't support the platform position on abortion.

And, Thompson is 65. If the nominee is McCain, do they really want to give us a ticket of two moderates, one 72 and one 65 with even less energy than McCain?

Huckabee is the one to assure that the social conservatives are involved, and at 52 years old is a balance for McCain's 72. The Republicans would win everything south of a line from Washington DC to Flagstaff and be competitive in a lot of states north of it, none of which they would be otherwise.

Cindy said...

Thank you Mr. Perrault for your analysis and blog, which I've been reading for some time. Huckabee inspires me, as do people like you who appreciate his uniqueness and enthusiastically proclaim it, though the media, pundits, and so on do not. I also will vote for Huckabee as long as his name is on the ballot. There are too many variables that could change the dynamics of the race in Huck's favor.

Cindy said...

Heh, I double posted a comment by accident--that's o.k., I've got double the enthusiasm for Huckabee--make that triple.

Larry said...


As I've said, I've voted since 1976 and watched since 1964 (7 yrs. old). And, there's never been anyone who has made progress even simiar to what Huckabee has who has had so much to offer the nation, both in terms of economic reform and the social confusion that we have sunk into in the past 4 decades. Thanks. Please don't be a stranger. When this campaign is over I will continue to write on the experience of the campaign and what it has shown, as well as on continued observations and concerns about the society. "Cindy" is the only ID I could get.

Lee said...

For all of the talk from Romney, about Huckabee getting out of the way so the Republican race could be a two-man race, it looks like the voters had something else to say. Romney is a distant third in many of the more conservative Southern states tonight, looks like Huckabee could well pick up enough delegates and state wins tonight to be quite a distance ahead of Romney by the time the night is over, if his leads hold up in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri.

Evangelicals, which are the largest constituency in the Republican party, will NOT vote for Romney. Romney represents the corporate interests that have gutted the middle and working classes in the country. Romney missed his bet when he appealed to conservatives exclusively. Conservatives are a distinct minority, and people are tired of the gridlock. McCain has appealed to working on both sides of the aisle, and the voters have responded. Romney will be lucky to come out with 20% of the vote total tonight.

Larry said...

Even I was impressedd with tonight. In a way, te compression of the process helped Huckabee, because people who liked him got a chance to vote before the money and visibility ran out.

Still, just a little space would have been nince. Had he recently demonstrated this kind of strength, he probably would have won Oklahoma and Missourri, which was particularly close, tonight. In fact, he could easily have won South Carolina with 1) a very recent strong showing and 2) Fred Thompson not in the race lying frankly.

I hope something will be changed to allow for at least a few weeks of campaigning in a contested state, which was obviously impossible, today. Still, given what WAS possible, it was a remarkable showing.

Huckabee can compete strongly in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas (delegate bonanza) and maybe South Dakota. And if it follows strong showings there. It looks a little thinner for Romney. If he continues, he might scale back the expenditures and the distorting negative campaigning. Certainly now, a vote for Romney is a vote for McCain.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

There are persistent rumors that Huckabee will suspend his campaign shortly after the Potomac Primary.

Meanwhile, I read the following outstanding column by Rich Galen. I think your readers will find it interesting:

Rush, Sean, and Laura
By Rich Galen
Friday, February 8, 2008

With the exit of Gov. Mitt Romney there is no doubt that Sen. John McCain will be the Republican nominee.

The Popular Press is running around in tiny circles, eyes wide, arms waving, mouths agape selling themselves on the theory that McCain's impending nomination will signal the end of the Republican Party.

The Main Stream Media has a vision of the GOP which is that Republicans are a bunch of narrow-minded, widely-condemning, high-handed, low-opinioned, under-educated, over-critical brutes who subscribe to a political orthodoxy which brooks no deviation from a belief set laid down by disciples of Aimee Semple McPherson

Not all. But many.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and the others are doing the work of the New York Times and the rest of the popular press by railing against McCain all day, every day.

It appears on the surface that their goal is to make Conservatives stay home next November 4 and hand the White House to Hillary or Barack.

But the reality is they are doing it because it means good ratings. When their listeners get tired of hearing them beat up on McCain, they'll switch to something else.

If they were to ask for my advice (which they most assuredly will not) I would suggest they take on the issue of the Democrats in the Senate holding up - according to the Wall Street Journal - 208 nominees: 180 nominees to executive branch positions and 28 nominees to the Federal bench.

If Rush, Sean, Laura and the rest wanted to really do a favor for America, they would get their tens of millions of listeners amped up about the nominees who are being held up - some for as long as two years - by Senate Democrats who will not allow the President to govern and will not allow the Judicial Branch to function.

But, I digress.

It is not a surprise that Mitt Romney got out of the race yesterday. After spending some $40-50 million of his own money and perhaps $100 million overall, he needed be able to have said more than "I did somewhat better than Mike Huckabee" after Super Tuesday.

Huckabee would never have gotten out of the race as long as Romney stayed in, so Romney found himself in an untenable political corner in which he was boxed in by McCain on his left and Huckabee on his right.

Huckabee will likely stay in at least until next Tuesday (the "Potomac Primary" - Virginia, DC, and Maryland) to see how he fares without having to share the right side of the ballot with either Romney or, as in South Carolina, Fred Thompson. After that Huckabee will get out leaving the field clear for McCain.

I don't have any idea that this has actually happened, but I would be surprised if surrogates for Charlie Black (McCain) and Ed Rollins (Huckabee) haven't been on the phone laying down the ground rules for a discussion about what role Huckabee will have in the campaign and what role his delegates will have at the Republican National Convention.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday, John McCain showed confidence and courage by standing before the very group which Rush, Sean, Laura and the rest have been attempting to agitate like a washing machine on steroids against him.

Watching the speech on television - first on Fox then on CNN - it appeared those in attendance appreciated McCain showing up, his willingness to openly speak about their differences, and his recitation of his Conservative creds.

It did not hurt that former Sen. George Allen stood with McCain as he was introduced, thus demonstrating that a favorite of core Conservatives - Allen - was pronouncing McCain satisfactory, acceptable, and … OK by him.

John McCain has nearly nine months to consolidate Republican support behind him. He will, with the aid of other Conservatives, do that.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are going to be duking it out until at least April and maybe all the way to the Democratic National Convention in August - leaving the nominee only a couple of months to accomplish that feat on the Dem side.

The Talk Show Set should get on board and stop doing the work of the New York & Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek and Time.

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. He currently is a senior adviser to Fred Thompson's presidential campaign and writes at

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