28 October 2009

More required reading

Zakaria on Afghanistan.

Will slams Cheney, suggests "dithering" might have been useful re: Iraq.

Will, again, on a potential GOP wave in 2010.

These numbers -- from Illinois, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Nevada and yes, New York -- back him up.

El Rushbo is losing his marbles.

Newsweek's Jon Meacham on our 21st-century conceptions of ideology.

From deep in the vault: A great John McCain piece, appropriately entitled "The Subversive."

More McCain: Some retro campaign fodder from January '08.

23 October 2009

Sullivan on conservatism

Take it with a grain of salt if you must, but he's exactly right:

"It's perfectly proper -- even admirable -- to demonstrate and argue against the new administration's ideas, but it's also worth recalling that this plan in its essentials was an integral part of the president's campaign platform and his party's effective manifesto. It was debated ad nauseum last year, and Obama won by a hefty margin. The tone of these protests suggests that this is some wild power-grab. It isn't. ...

The protesters keep saying that they want their country back. Sorry, my fellow small-governmenters, but this country is a democracy, and you didn't lose your country, you just lost an election. You had your chance for eight years. You blew it, and you lost. What Obama is doing is what he was elected to do. The principled response is not a massive, extremist-riddled hissy fit a few months in, but a constructive set of proposals ... You have to win some political credibility for that; and then you have to beat the man you lost so badly to last year. That's the civil and civilized way forward for the right. It also seems, alas, to be the one they are currently refusing to take."

16 October 2009

The right and the president

According to the most recent Fox News poll, President Obama's approval rating has slipped to 49. I have offered my thoughts on the president many times on this site -- I have disapprovingly referred to him as a 50 percent president, saw through his changenhope charade from day one and ripped the starry-eyed Obamatrons who wistfully hang on his every word.

I continue to be dumbfounded, however, by his treatment from the lunatic fringe.

This comment from Glenn Beck -- I'm sure, echoed by many others on the right -- was just obscene. (Here, you'll find some gratuitous Beck weepage.)

Applause to Joe Scarborough -- a guy who was reviled by the far right as one of the first conservatives to criticize the Bush administration during Bush's first term, and who is now being criticized for pointing out the hypocrisy of Limbaugh, Hannity, et al., who willingly followed Bush over a cliff and now insist on calling Obama names to burnish their "conservative" credentials.

By the way, if, as Limbaugh mandates, refusing to call the president names makes you a "neutered chickified moderate," then I suppose Scarborough and I are in this together.

I genuinely don't believe that Barack Obama is Muslim, Marxist, a Manchurian candidate, anti-American, or a man who wishes to take away your guns and weaken our military. I believe he was born in Hawaii, is a Christian and yes, like most liberals, loves his country. I suppose I'm in the minority when I say that the president seems like a reasonably nice man who loves his family (after barely knowing his own father) but is simply wrong. He was wrong about the stimulus, he's wrong about "health care reform," he's wrong about deficit spending, and he's just flat-out wrong about the proper role of government.

If Limbaugh and I sat in the same congressional chamber, I'm sure he and I would vote together more often than not. In fact, away from his microphone, I might even like the man personally.

From 1992 to 1998, Rush Limbaugh shared the spotlight with House Speaker Newt Gingrich as the voice of a thoughtful opposition to the fiscally moderate, socially liberal President Clinton. After the revelation of Clinton's affair(s), the far right went into hysterics (the same people, by the way, who will likely re-elect admitted philanderer David Vitter to a second Senate term, and who would pull the lever for admitted adulterer Gingrich in a heartbeat), led by the thrice-married Limbaugh.

As a result of conservatism's uproar against Clinton's dalliances, Democrats, in turn, upon Bush's election in 2000, were almost universally aligned against the Bush administration from day one. After approving ratings in the 80s following 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan, Bush's invasion of Iraq consolidated even moderate Democrats like Jim Webb and Claire McCaskill behind the likes of MoveOn.org and Nancy Pelosi. In the years that followed, some of the things said about Bush were nothing short of despicable. Bush limped through his second term, a lame duck from the very beginning, with very few and 70 percent of the country -- and probably nearly half of his own party -- lined up in firm disapproval of him.

And to this point, Republicans have been just as relentless with Obama. Look -- I don't agree with the man either, and think that his two signature initiatives -- the "stimulus" and his vague idea of "health care reform" -- are disastrous. But his treatment by the far right -- led by virtually every talking head from Beck to Savage and Ingraham to Levin in an effort to toss red meat to the base and spike ratings -- is just as disgusting as Democrats' treatment of Bush.

But I've found that my take on the president is shared by virtually no one: He is flat wrong on almost every policy initiative, but he's not an evil guy.

I suppose that puts me in a lonely place.

09 October 2009

Required reading: Nobel Prize edition

Steele is dead on.

Even liberals can't believe it.

Richard Cohen says the president is still in campaign mode.

Peggy Noonan, one of our favorites and the epitome of a conservative elitist, thoughtfully examines the situation in Afghanistan.

Al Franken annihilates a spongy-kneed anti-plaintiffs lackey. If anyone would care to discuss the GOP's fixation with the utter and complete fallacy that is the "out of control plaintiffs" movement, click here and become educated.

Fiscal responsibility is dead.

Heyward asks: Is conservatism, too?

Or is it just a cult?

Can anyone possibly be surprised by this Fox News report?

Mark my words: This man will be the Republican nominee in 2012.

Another sad example of intolerance reigning supreme on college campuses.

John Stewart obliterates ACORN. (Hat tip: Stubborn Facts)

And Joe Scarborough unloads on Limbaugh.

02 October 2009

The maverick rides again

Politico has a worthwhile piece on Sen. McCain and his efforts to reshape the Republican Party. I actually read most of it while in line at the downtown Starbucks on my new firm-issued iPhone.

Anyway ...

The more I have read about McCain, the more fascinating his political career has been.

Democrats dismissed him during the campaign as the second coming of George W. Bush, and argued that his ill-conceived response to the financial meltdown demonstrated a temperament unfit for the presidency. At best, conservatives simply admire the man and his accomplishments -- warily -- from a distance. At worst (see: Glenn Beck), the tin-pot loudmouths on the far right think he's the second coming of Trotsky. Beck, incredibly, went so far as to say that he would be worse for the country than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Ann Coulter said she'd support Clinton before him because, in her words, Hillary was "more conservative." Rush Limbaugh's campaign of perpetual rants against the Senior Senator is approaching the two-decade mark. Laura Ingraham inexplicably engaged in a war of words with McCain's daughter and called her "fat."

At age 72, it would be quite easy for McCain to ride off into the sunset, particularly after two brutal presidential campaigns (2000 and 2008) that left him deeply disappointed. I'm sure most conservatives wish he would do so. However, he intends to seek re-election to his fifth Senate term in 2010, and doesn't appear to be going anywhere.

I've argued here many times -- and Newt Gingrich has said the same thing -- that the Republican Party must enlarge its tent in order to return to prominence. John McCain has voted with the Republican Party better than 80 percent of the time during his 22-year Senate career. He is a conservative. Period. But it's his (in?)famous penchant for crossing the aisle and working with the Feingolds, the Kennedys and the Liebermans that has made him one of the most admired political figures in American life (and one of the most reviled figures by the far right).

Colin Powell was dead wrong when he said the GOP needed to move toward the center and ditch the "small government" mantra if it wanted to return to power. The Republican Party does not need to sacrifice its core principles, but rather needs to be more inclusive, more accommodating, more thoughtful and more civil. There exists an incredible vacuum in Washington -- the president is too aloof and inexperienced, congressional Democrats are too liberal, and Republican leaders feel compelled to capitulate to the shrill voices on the fringe -- that is dying to be filled. Americans want solutions that the vast majority of the Democratic Party is simply unable to provide.

The GOP will be better off if thoughtful candidates who appeal to the vital center are on the ballot. Kudos to Sen. McCain for his work in this regard.