I hadn't planned on writing about this morning's Tennessee Republican Executive Committee meeting, but stories about it are all over the Tennessee blogospheretoday. I have never seen this much attention over an Executive Committee meeting at any level. The big eyes are a result of this press release written by our beloved Communications Director Bill Hobbs. The resulting national controversy from the release likely would not have happened at all were it not for a public rally for John McCain in Cincinnati at which popular Queen City talk show host Bill Cunningham used Barack Obama's middle name and earned McCain's ire.
When Republican Chairwoman Robin Smith hired Bill, both she and the Executive Committee knew that this was a man with a penchant for controversy. Known and respected in the blogosphere and in the Nashville area, Hobbs is someone who could help bring the party into the digital age. Tennessee is rich with blogging talent on the conservative and Republican side of the aisle, and having Bill Hobbs on board with the Tennessee GOP is a way for the party to harvest that talent and use it to benefit Republican candidates. After all, Robin Smith has said that her primary goal is to see a Republican majority in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Practically speaking, this is a goal about which the national party brass could really care less. None of those folks live here and have to put up with Jimmy Naifeh or his shenanigans, but they all want to play "get along with Johnny," so they would just as soon see Bill Hobbs get hung out to dry for using Barack Obama's middle name. If Bill Hobbs is dismissed from his position with the Tennessee Republican Party today, it will be because he is being used as the scapegoat for the party's failure to reach out to its own grassroots.
It has been rumored per Ken Whitehouse that some party bigwigs want rid of Hobbs. I have no doubt that this is true, and these same people (I have a pretty good idea who some of these folks are, but I will be a good Republican and abide by the 11th Commandment and mention no names) probably have no real problems with the Democratic majority in Nashville-I'm quite sure some, if not most of them voted for Phil Bredesen in the last election.
The only legitimate question in all of this should be whether Bill Hobbs should personally blog about State Republican Party affairs while serving as an employee of the State GOP. I must admit that I have mixed feelings about it. Bill isn't Stacey Campfield-a Republican State Representative expressing his views via a blog-and he isn't me, a party supporter and grassroots activist expressing his views via a blog. Bill Hobbs is the press man for the Republican Party, so it would be very easy for people to confuse the personal opinions of blogger Bill Hobbs with the public message of the Tennessee Republican Party as a whole. On the other hand, our party is not a party of censorship and we should not be the party of squelching internal dissent-we know the other party is quite good at that. No one can show the Republican Party how to rally the netroots to the side of Republicans better than a controversial and well-read blogger.
As for the RNC: We support you when you ask it of us us. We'd appreciate it if you'd mind your business and stay out of the internal affairs of our State organization.
Be prepared, for if Hillary Clinton does not win the hybrid Texas Democratic Primary/Caucus,she just might sue:
Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign has raised the possibility of a challenge to Texas' primary and caucus rules just days before the contest, is drawing a warning against legal action from the state's Democratic Party.
Texas party officials said they believed Cecil was threatening legal action and wrote a letter to him and to Obama senior strategist Steve Hildebrand reflecting that concern.
"WAAAAAAAAAAAHHH! I might lose Texas, I'm Hillary and I am supposed to be President. I have more experience than Obama just because my husband was President. If I lose, I'll just sue to overturn the result."Democrats are very good at playing the sore loser, but I have a feeling that Hillary Clinton may put sour grapes on a completely separate plain. I encourage this behavior, however-the Democrats will shoot themselves in the foot yet again.
The national Republican Party has begun to reflect the spineless nature evident in the recent political career of its nominee. The Knox County (TN) audit is out, and Mayor Mike Ragsdale can't spin the truth. A tribute to William F. Buckley, Jr.
Watching Minority Leader John Boehner implore his House colleagues to get off their "dead asses" and help raise money for the struggling National Republican Congressional Committee is a helpful reminder of the importance of morale in determining the balance of power in Congress.
And the Republican leader wasn’t the only lawmaker berating his GOP colleagues to raise more money for the committee’s March 12 fundraising dinner: According to sources in the room, NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also used a closed-door session at the Capitol Hill Club on Tuesday to challenge Republicans to raise more campaign cash.
One reality that press reports of this Tuesday rear-chewing session do not deal with is the fact that the presence of a Republican presidential nominee that the conservative wing of the party-the portion most aptly represented in the Republican Conference in the House-simply does not trust. In spite of the public appearance of kumbuya, many House Republicans don't trust John McCain any more than other conservatives do, and a lot of these folks believe that McCain is going to lose-and they don't want to spend their time going down with a sinking ship. McCain has had an opportunity to rally the base to his side on a couple of occasions and he has failed miserably to do so.
If House Republicans can't get excited about the presidential nominee of the party, it is rather difficult to get excited about raising money for Congressional candidates that are either going to be lemmings for the nominee that-in their hearts-they do not support, or (more likely) the nominee will not support those candidates to the best of his ability.
The Republicans have some outstanding candidates for Congress this year, as well as for State legislatures all over the country, but those conservative candidates won't get the attention that they deserve because the nominee of the party will get the most attention. That is normally the case in a presidential year and wouldn't be a problem-except that this year the nominee is not a conservative.
William Frank Buckley Jr. passed awayyesterday, and with him passed an era into history. People rightly called him influential, and I have always called him one of my great heroes-Buckley was a true believer. In an age when many so-called conservatives are attempting to label those of us who were opposed to the Iraq War as not conservative, no one would or could apply that label to Bill Buckley-they would not dare try.
Buckley never held elective office (though he did once run for Mayor of New York), but his words and the power of his tongue did more to influence national policy and the fight against totalitarianism than any American politician in the last 50 years. He had a greater grasp of policy without having held office than most so-called leaders have in a lifetime of service-and he had an unflinching belief in the hope of the American spirit and in the superiority of the American way of life.
I love to write and talk, and I enjoy politics. I like to fancy that people might actually read what I say-but I can't ever be like Buckley. There are plenty of voices on the Right today in print and on the air, but none of these-least of all me-have the intellectual abilities or the practical grit of the Great One. Conservatives of today love to look to Ronald Reagan for inspiration, but how easily we forget that Reagan readily admitted what a huge influence William F. Buckley was on him. Buckley was truly the Godfather of the modern political conservative movement, and without him we collectively would not be the force that we are today. Had Buckley not come on the scene in the 1950's promoting ideas in print and in speech that were then thought of as radical, conservatism as we know it would be a movement on the fringes of American political life. William F. Buckley gave conservatives a voice when others would not hear us, and gave our movement respectability when the so-called mainstream ignored us.
To read Buckley's many books (most of which I have read) is to return to a time when the conservative movement was fresh and filled with new ideas and a world of possibilities and hope. In 2008, conservatives appear ready to enter the political wilderness because we have lost our way. We don't have to stay there, however-the map to the promised land can be found by revisiting the works and the philosophy of the man who made our movement into a political force in the first place.
No poor screed that I might write could ever do justice to the Godfather, so I will let some of my favorite William F. Buckley quotes do the talking:
The Godfatherof modern conservatism
"Though liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view."
"I will not cede more power to the state. I will not willingly cede more power to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors, not to the CIO. I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me. I will then use my power, as I see fit. I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth. That is a program of sorts, is it not? It is certainly program enough to keep conservatives busy, and liberals at bay. And the nation free."
"I am, I fully grant, a phenomenon, but not because of any speed in composition. I asked myself the other day, 'Who else, on so many issues, has been so right so much of the time?' I couldn't think of anyone."
"The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry."
"Government can't do anything for you except in proportion as it can do something to you."
Eternal Rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon him. May he rest in peace, Amen. May his soul and the souls of all the Faithful Departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
With yet moresuperdelegates switching to Barack Obamain the race for the Democratic nomination, the question has arisen as to whether the nomination fight will be over next Tuesday. The more information that we get about how the race is shaping up in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont, it becomes more likely that both Clinton and Obama will survive the night and go on-provided they both wish to do so. Hillary is likely to win Ohio (and possibly Rhode Island) because she is, as Professor Allan Louden pointed out to Newsweek's Katie Paul, speaking to Ohio concerns (however disingenuously):
The moderators tried to exploit the tension between the Texas and Ohio audiences, and the candidates are well aware of that. I think she won the debate in Ohio, in that she spoke much more about Ohio local concerns, grounded in citizens’ reactions, how many kids are covered by insurance. I would say three-quarters of her answers had a recognizable Ohio reference. And that’s probably good politics. His wasn’t nearly as specific to Ohio, but more about the meaning of election, aimed at a national audience. It was more about how to interpret what’s going on. I think she wins the debate in Ohio, but he wins the debate nationally.
Whether a candidate is speaking to a Republican or a Democrat-and in Ohio, both parties have good Statewide organizations so you could be speaking to either and to both-it is very hard for a candidate who campaigns in Ohio to say "NAFTA has been good for you." Jobs and people are leaving Ohio at a near-record rate, and most of the jobs leaving are those of the industrial variety that NAFTA opponents warned would leave as a result of that flawed trade agreement.
From a conservative Republican perspective, a big part of the reason for Ohio's economic woes has to do with the reality that the people there are overtaxed (Ohio was the 4th-most taxed State in the Union last year), and underpaid-literally, taxes eat up income in Ohio like rabbits eat greens. As Clinton and Obama could use the platform of the Democratic debate to address NAFTA and the decline in Ohio's industrial base,Mike Huckabeecould use a Republican debate with John McCain to effectively raise the issue of how over-regulation and over-taxation are causing the flight of talent and energy from the State.
There will be no debate between McCain and Huckabee in Ohio because McCain does not want one, and because the State GOP establishment there which is backing McCain knows that Huckabee would likely raise the issues that could cause the party base to seriously question McCain, and he likely would bring the policies of the Ohio GOP establishment itself into question.
Barack Obama missed a golden opportunity to make inroads in Ohio by tackling NAFTA in detail. While Hillary Clinton talked about children's health care and other related social concerns, Obama could have reminded the audience that those concerns would be significantly lessened were it not for the jobs leaving Ohio for foreign countries at such a rapid rate. It makes one wonder if Obama is not concentrating on Texas quite deliberately because of the larger delegate haul.
Prediction: Obama wins Texas and Vermont, Clinton wins Ohio and Rhode Island. Obama will receive significant delegates in the States he loses because of the Democrats' proportional allocation system, and the same will be true for Hillary,and the Democratic race, like the Energizer Bunny, will keep going and going and going...
John McCain throws another conservative under the bus in Cincinnati. For once, Hillary Clinton is right about something-that Barack Obama has no substance. Warner Todd Huston amd Adam Graham join David Oatney in a roundtable discussion.
He repeatedly referred to Obama using his middle name -- Hussein -- and said that Obama was a product of the "Chicago-Daley mob.'' McCain was not on stage when these remarks were made but was told of them later.
I just finished listening to the so-called offending remarks, and Cunningham talked more about Tony Rezko andBarack Obama's ties to the Daley Machine than he mentioned his middle name. As Cunningham himself said on the air this afternoon, the press has a different standard for him than it would were he a liberal or a Democrat, because much of what Cunningham said are also things that Hillary Clinton has said about Obama-yet we don't see the national press trying to run Hillary through the mud for saying essentially the same thing that Cunningham did. John McCain denounced Cunningham's remarks without even being present in the room to hear them (other local Cincinnati Republicans who were at the rally appeared on Cunningham's show this afternoon and said they saw nothing wrong with the remarks and called in to support the popular chat host).
Having once lived in Cincinnati for two years, and during that time became a daily devotee of Willie's show (and a regular at his Western Hills bar and restaurant), one thing I can say with certainty is that if you don't want controversy and right-wing speech, don't invite Cunningham to speak at your rally. I've never agreed completely with the man, but he is what he is-and in addition to being a popular conservative talk show host, he is also a very good lawyer and tends to word things in such a way as to avoid any legal trouble.
McCain later claimed that he did not know Cunningham and had never met him-the latter of which is false (the two have met on three separate occasions), and I believe the former likely is as well. Cunningham's ratings are the highest talk radio ratings in the Cincinnati area-he dwarfs Rush Limbaugh there-and he is a very close second to Limbaugh in Ohio and Kentucky Statewide. There is no way that at least a few of the people around McCain did not know who Bill Cunningham is. At least one caller to Cunningham's program this afternoon theorized that McCain or his people were very much aware of the kind of shtick Cunningham would use and were deliberately trying to throw him under the bus.
I'm not sure how true that is, but I do know that at a time when John McCain needs desperately to unite the conservative movement in his favor, he doesn't need to be using popular local conservatives (who have endorsed him) in major metropolitan areas with high numbers of Republicans and then running them down in the national press.
NOTE: Cincinnati MayorMark Mallory(D) an Obama supporter, has come out in support of Cunningham, saying "the national media do not know you, but we do, and we love you."
The conventional wisdom says that in spite ofBarack Obama's surging campaign,Hillary Clintonstands a very good chance to win in Texas, and it is agreed that she must win there in order to keep her campaign alive. Barack Obama doesn't have to win the Texas Primary in order to keep going, he only needs to make a respectable showing-especially since Texas Democrats are holding precinct caucuses on thesame night as the election:
Since the Nevada caucuses on Jan. 19, Barack Obama has defeated Clinton in every state that's held traditional caucuses, open meetings that reward grassroots organization and vigorous commitment to a candidate. Clinton could conceivably win the Texas primary but still see her delegate advantage there evaporate if Obama supporters turn out in droves for the meetings held in over 8,000 precincts after polls close across the state.
Even as the Clinton campaign maintains that the uncommitted superdelegates should exercise their own judgment on whom the party should nominate, the former president slams the Texas system as a political anomaly that smacks of cronyism and party elitism.
As has been written in these pages in recent days, the Obama campaign is providing both Clinton and the Republicans ample ammunition with which to completely destroy Obama (in addition to Communists and former terrorists,Louis Farrakhan has now endorsed him). Hillary seems completely unable to avail herself of these opportunities, largely because of the overt stupidity of her campaign. Rather than focus on Barack Obama's very real flaws, she and her advisors are too busy to to focus on those things and instead choose to exaggerate irrelevant tripe such as whetherObama wore native garbwhile visiting a foreign country-a traditional practice of foreign dignitaries.
Barack Obama is in a position to come out of Texas with his delegate lead in tact without having won the primary there because he and his supporters know nothing if not how to organize for a caucus. If the Clinton campaign continues to focus on things about which voters could care less, Obama will not defeat Hillary-Hillary will beat herself.
In 1995, State Senator Alice Palmer introduced her chosen successor, Barack Obama, to a few of the district’s influential liberals at the home of two well known figures on the local left:William AyersandBernardine Dohrn.
While Ayers and Dohrn may be thought of in Hyde Park as local activists, they’re better known nationally as two of the most notorious — and unrepentant — figures from theviolent fringeof the 1960s anti-war movement.
They disappeared in 1970, after a bomb — designed to kill army officers in New Jersey — accidentally destroyed a Greenwich Village townhouse, and turned themselves into authorities in 1980. They were never prosecuted for their involvement with the 25 bombings the Weather Underground claimed; charges were dropped because of improper FBI surveillance.
“I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough,” Ayers told the New York Times in 2001.
Imagine if this were a conservative Republican candidate in a serious two-person fight for for the GOP nomination that were still far from being decided heading into a couple of big large-state primaries, and the conservative had developed a huge popular following inRed Statesbased on a message of right-wing populism and social conservatism. What if it were then discovered that the conservative candidate had meetings when he or she was first entering public life with some of the most radical fringe groups on the Right in search of their tacit or active support? Suppose the conservative had a meeting withWillis Carto or David Duke and was aided or given contributions by friends of Carto or Duke-the press would never let it rest.
All that would be discussed in the major news media for weeks on end would be the "radical associations" in the past of the conservative candidate. It would be asked if the conservative were racist or anti-Semetic, and the conservative would be forced to spend much valuable time defending themselves against charges of associating with hate groups or even those who advocate violence. The press would constantly harp the candidate over whether he or she held any of the extreme beliefs espoused by these supporters from the "old days."
If such questions about political associations are relevant for conservatives and they ought to be made to answer for them, extreme associations on the other side of the political spectrum are equally fair game. Yet the press isn't asking these questions about Barack Obama and his associates, because being liberal apparently qualifies you for getting a pass for associating with extremists or terrorists-especially if those people are Leftists.
David Oatney gives an account of the goings-on at the Jefferson County (TN) Lincoln Day Dinner, and discusses the state of the Grand Old Party in East Tennessee. (Speeches by State Rep. Frank Niceley, future State Senator Mike Faulk, former First District Congressman Bill Jenkins, Second District Congressman Jimmy Duncan) Fabian Story joins for a discussion of the political nuts and bolts.
Last night's Jefferson County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner was surprisingly well-attended considering that it bumped very snugly up against the Tennessee-Memphis basketball game. While the reasoning behind it was understandable, the evening was noticeably rushed compared to last year's event in order to get everyone home in time for tip off (this wasn't a bad thing per se, but I thought it was a shame that the speakers had to be so rushed). Unlike last year, when plenty of time was allotted between folks eating and the speakers, the schedule went from the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance right into the talking. We all wanted to see the game-and it was a great game-but I enjoy the social aspect of Lincoln/Reagan Day dinners as much as anything else. Folks were in and out in such a hurry that I just didn't get a chance to visit with as many people as I normally do.
Frank Niceley was the first major speaker, and I have always thought Frank would make as good a headliner as anyone else, but he introducedMike Faulk. Mike relayed a wonderful story about former CongressmanBill Jenkinsinviting Mike, then a young lawyer, over for beef stew and asking him to help fix an old tractor. Congressman Jenkins then introduced Second District Congressman Jimmy Duncan (long a hero of mine), who gave a very good speech reminding everyone of the reality the Republican counties are often the places where the common people live-and vote Republican.
One of my Jefferson County Commissioners, Nina Snodgrass, was honored as Jefferson County Republican Woman of the Year. It is a well-deserved recognition for all of the time that Ms. Nina devotes to the community and the GOP, but she really is a humble lady-the award left her speechless.
As usual, Mike Faulk showed such wonderful hospitality to Nicole and myself, and last night he brought along several family members including his mother. Mike's family, as well as those of our other elected officials in this part of the State, really reminded me just how blessed we are to be able to choose and to send such good family people to represent our interests-Upper East Tennessee has a lot to be proud of when we can boast that while the rest of the State gives us Fords and Waltzers, we have produced people like Mike Faulk, Frank Niceley, and Bill Jenkins (what a marked contrast to other so-called leaders!).
I'll have much more on last night's event tomorrow.
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