Saturday, June 07, 2008

Big Brown and Big Concession


Big Brown comes up short in his quest for a Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes. Hillary Clinton "suspends" her campaign and endorses Barack Obama. Why we haven't reached full political equality in America. Words of tribute to legendary sportscaster Jim McKay, who passed away today. Hatton Humphrey and Adam Graham join the show.

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I Feel Fine

Alas, the real Rock and Roll we are presently deprived of in our culture.


Friday, June 06, 2008

June 6, 1944

We remember and pray

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McCain and Moderate Control

There is no small debate among conservatives about what a John McCain victory will mean for the conservative movement. Some conservatives, such as my dear friend Rob Huddleston, believe that the time is now to bolt the old Republican ship and consider a third-party candidate because no real conservative actually trusts McCain. The great problem with this, of course, is that no third-party candidate has a snowball's chance in Hell of actually winning. A vote on principle is utterly useless if it accomplishes no positive good, if it renders an outcome antithetical to the very principles that it purports to uphold-and in this case, throwing the country to the enemy accomplishes no good whatsoever. (It would be one thing if a third-party candidate finished by not only winning electoral votes, but electing members of Congress from the same party-without doing so, it is a quixotic exercise.)

I tend to share the belief of Adam Graham that a McCain victory may result in the unusual combination of a Republican electoral vote victory along with further Democratic gains in the House and perhaps the Senate as well. John McCain is not the choice of his party for the Republican nomination-he received no consensus from us. He managed to do wiggle his way in at the hands of independents and Democrats, or in the case of Florida closed primary, because the conservative vote was split. Further, I agree with D.R. Tucker of Human Events about who will control the party in the wake of a McCain victory:

A John McCain Presidential victory in November will be an event twenty-eight years in the making.

The centrist-moderate wing of the GOP was left for dead in 1980, when its icon—George H. W. Bush—lost to Ronald Reagan in the Republican primary. Republicans who were not comfortable with Reagan-style social conservatism quietly grumbled as Reagan moved the party, and the country, to the right in the 1980s. For years, they’ve tried to figure out a way to once again control the GOP nominating process. McCain’s nomination is their triumph.

If McCain wins, the centrist counterrevolutionaries will be every bit as happy as conservatives were nearly three decades ago. In their minds, McCain represents the real Republican Party: a party that seeks compromise instead of conservatism, a party that believes in a “Big Tent” as opposed to fidelity to the principles of the right. One can call them RINOs, quasi-conservatives, even militant moderates. If McCain wins, however, one will have to call them dominant.

McCain’s support comes from those who thought Reagan and Gingrich were too radical, those who thought Goldwater was a wacky warmonger, those who thought William F. Buckley was just a bit out there. McCain is the Prime Minister of Moderate Republicanism, the George H. W. Bush of the 2000s, the holy figure of political centrism.

As an ideology, centrism is not one. The proponents of "consensus politics" have no principles, their primary concern being what is popular at the moment. There has always been a quiet civil war within the Republican Party between the proponents of the moderate way, generally the country club crowd, and the believers in the conservative cause for the sake of its truth. The spinelessness and daily gutless conduct of the Rockefeller Republicans has always goaded me to my very core, and the reality is that the consensus politics crowd sees the Republican Party as an instrument with which to win elections, not a party with a set of principles by which to govern.

When the moderates have controlled the party before, they brought it to national ruination. They elected a President for two terms in Dwight Eisenhower, but destroyed the Republicans ' majority in Congress-something the GOP would take nearly half-a-century to regain. The great heroes of the moderates, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, proved to be mediocre presidents and political flops of the first order. It has been my personal experience that moderates have about as much firmness as flat beer, and have the solidity of a bowl of Jell-o. Moderate control of the Republican Party is likely to usher in a period of political mediocrity not hitherto seen since the 1970's. Happy Days Are Here Again.

Political parties are broad churches, however. Moderate control of the GOP is terrible for the party's future, but running the moderates off entirely could cause the Republicans to suffer the same fate the Democrats did when that party ran the last of its conservatives out as a movement in the 1960's and '70's. The choice to run the last Southern (conservative) Democrats out of the party in the 1960's and 70's planted the seeds of Democrats' long inability in the 1990's and 2000's to control the national consensus. Even I have endorsed a moderate from time to time (see Alexander, Lamar) based on the "first do no harm" principle-and because I have believed the moderates that I have endorsed to at least be in tune with the conservative wishes of their constituents.

If the moderates do gain control of the GOP by means of a McCain victory, conservatives will be in for a long night in the wilderness. That does not mean the movement is dead, far from it. Conservatives who believe this are entirely too quick to forget history. People who fought for the movement for years lived and even died before seeing the movement triumph in the election of Ronald Reagan-but no one ever gave up and abandoned ship-and the persistence paid off.

We should remember that before we all start singing "Gloom, Despair, and Agony On Me."

[As a side note, Rob Huddleston pointed out correctly that he and I are friends-Rob is very right. There are few people I would trust with elected office completely-Rob is one of those people. He's as genuine off of the internet as he is on it. I hope he runs for Congress from the First District one day.]

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

The End and the Beginning

It has been moved back a day-now we're being told it will happen Saturday- but Hillary Clinton will finally concede the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama:

Clinton, in an e-mail to supporters, said she "will be speaking on Saturday
about how together we can rally the party behind Senator Obama. The stakes are
too high and the task before us too important to do otherwise."

Aides told NBC News that there would be a private staff event
Friday in Washington, followed by the public event on Saturday. They said that
she would not waive her right to have her name placed in nomination and that she
had not negotiated for anything from Obama, such as debt relief for her

Clinton's move to formally declare that she is backing the Illinois senator
came after Democratic congressional colleagues made clear they had no stomach
for a protracted intraparty battle.

The Democrats are already damaged by the primary battle between these two, and many Clinton primary voters will not vote for Obama in the fall even if Hillary is his running mate (though having Clinton as a running mate may be Obama's only hope for a State-by-State electoral victory). It is understandable from a Democratic point of view why some of Clinton's most ardent supporters now want the battle to end.

The Democratic brass know that they are going to have a much more difficult time selling Barack Obama to the larger and more skeptical American electorate than he had in winning Democratic primaries. In addition to the primary voters who may swear him off, Obama must now reach out to a whole new group of voters; those who will vote in November for the first time. Some of these folks don't participate in the process at any time except in November of every fourth year.

Note, however, that it is apparent that Hillary Clinton is going to retain her right to be placed into nomination at the convention and could keep all of her pledged delegates. That could make for a very interesting roll call on Wednesday night of the convention-and one major Obama gaffe could give Clinton new bargaining power and clout with her delegate lode. The nomination fight in the party opposite may be over, but the consequences of it have only begun to be felt.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

NBC News and NYT: Clinton Out Friday

The New York Times and NBC News are reporting that Hillary Clinton will exit the race for the Democratic nomination Friday after her backers on Capitol Hill advised her to get out for the sake of the Democrats' waning chances in the fall.

I'll have more on this development tomorrow.

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Cardinal George Has Enough of Father Pfleger

His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago, has asked Father Michael Pfleger to take a leave of absence after he made a mockery of Hillary Clinton in a sermon in which he publicly endorsed Barack Obama after being invited to preach at the now-infamous Trinity United Church of Christ:

Cardinal Francis George asked a Chicago priest on Tuesday to temporarily
step down from his post to "reflect on his recent statements" regarding Sen.
Hillary Rodham Clinton and her bid for the White House.

Last week, the Rev. Michael Pfleger mocked Clinton at Sen. Barack
Obama's former church, saying the New York senator felt "entitled" to the
Democratic nomination for president.

In a guest sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ, Pfleger pretended he was Clinton crying over "a black man stealing my show."

George asked Pfleger to take leave from pastoral duties at St. Sabina
Church in order to "reflect on his recent statements and actions in the light of
the church's regulations for all Catholic priests," according to a statement
Tuesday from the Archdiocese of Chicago.

"While respecting his disagreement, I have nevertheless asked him to use
this opportunity to reflect," George said in the statement. "I hope that this
period will also be a time away from the public spotlight and for rest and
attention to family concerns."

In fairness, Father Pfleger is still, despite all of his imperfections, a priest of God and a member of the hierarchy of authority within the Holy Catholic and apostolic Church, and hence is deserving of the same respect that any other priest would be entitled and deserve from the laity.

He also flagrantly violated a long-standing custom since the end of the reign of Bleesed Pius IX that the Church is happy to get behind causes (and does), but will not endorse individual candidates. Father Pfleger is free to endorse whoever he might wish as an individual, but to show up in any church of any denomination in black suit and Roman collar and say the things that he did is an endorsement in his capacity as priest and pastor-something that is wholly unacceptable.

He has a history of making bazaar public pronouncements and embarrassing the Church.

I can only imagine the conversation between Pfleger and Cardinal George. His Eminence must believe that Pfleger has lost his marbles, and one has to wonder if His Eminence would be right in that assumption. Cardinal George is, after all, one of the most orthodox (some would say "conservative") bishops and may be the most orthodox Cardinal in the American Church. He has also been quite outspoken that Catholics should in no way support candidates for high office who are not pro-life (as that is a "first things" issue of life and death), and that this is an act of grave spiritual consequences. Did Father Pfleger really believe that Cardinal George was going to put up with his behavior? Was he aiming to be defrocked? Surely Father Pfleger knew Cardinal George would not allow him to continue to pastor a parish knowing that Cardinal George enforces the doctrine of the Church in the manner in which he does. I would imagine that His Eminence probably watched the whole spectacle thinking that Pfleger can't be quite right, because if he were he wouldn't behave that way because of the consequences of his actions.

Cardinal George decided enough was enough.

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Winning By Losing

As I predicted some months ago, Barack Obama effectively won the Democratic nomination last night, but did so stumbling across the finish line rather than racing across right ahead. Obama is a precariously weak nominee. Indeed, had the Democratic delegate allocation system resembled anything like the Republican one, Hillary Clinton would have clinched the nomination three months ago.

This primary cycle has exposed both the strengths and the weaknesses of each party's delegate allocation system. The Democratic system is frought with problems, because the party has nominated a candidate who clinched the nomination by winning caucuses with voters less likely to turn out in the fall (18-24 year olds and other young college-types), but far more so by using his party's proportional system to "win from losing," picking up large swaths of delegates even in States that he lost. In winning he lost yet another State last night-South Dakota.

The Republican system of nomination is also seriously flawed. Yes, it allowed the Republicans the opportunity to get someone nominated months ahead of the party opposite and exercise a potential advantage. However, John McCain is not the choice of his party-he won by finishing first in a three-way race in several States which awarded delegates on a winner-take-all bases, or on a winner-take-all by district basis. A majority of Republicans on Super Tuesday and in the contests before that day voted against McCain and for someone else, and those voters went unrepresented in the process.

That is one of the biggest reasons I favor a caucus-only system for nominating candidates, because those voters who care enough to show up for a caucus ought to have the biggest say. Further, the press should refrain from "calling" the nomination for any candidate under that system prior to a political party's national convention. Under such a system, neither party could complain about the other getting a head start because there would be no starting a General Election campaign prior to the conventions. Not that this would ever actually happen-but it should.

Since Barack Obama has won enough delegates on paper to win the Democratic nomination, what does Hillary Clinton do now? Apparently nothing just yet:

"Now given how far we’ve come and where we need to go as a party, it’s a question
I don’t take lightly. This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no
decisions tonight.” But what other decision can she make? Her speech, which came
after the networks declared Obama the presumptive nominee, seemed akin to the
losing football team remaining on the field after the game is already over and
celebrating with its fans.

Some of Hillary's supporters were shouting "Denver, Denver" last night. If she does go to Denver without bowing, it will be a long convention for the Democrats. There are those who would like Hillary to be Obama's Number 2, but is that really a good idea?:

“Like her husband, Mrs. Clinton has a way of becoming the center of
attention even when the spotlight is supposed to be trained elsewhere.” That
reality might make the prospect of her becoming Obama’s running mate more
difficult than some of her supporters realize.

Normally, candidates should never choose a running mate that could outshine them. When they do, the running mate becomes more popular than the candidate. A few prime examples of this would be Bob Dole in 1976 (Gerald Ford), Lloyd Bentsen in 1988 (Michael Dukakis), and John Edwards in 2004 (John Kerry). Barack Obama would have one consolation in choosing his rival as a running mate: John McCain may be forced to pick an equally popular running mate of his own to placate the conservative base of the GOP.

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Obama Clinches


Barack Obama effectively clinches the Democratic nomintion. Hillary Clinton wins South Dakota.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Weak Nominee

The New York Times posits the question not only of when Hillary Clinton might throw in the towel, but whether she will do so at all:

In many ways, Mr. Obama is wheezing across the finish line after making a strong start: He has won only 6 of the 13 Democratic contests held since March 4, drawing 6.1 million votes, compared with 6.6 million for Mrs. Clinton.

Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a superdelegate who has been at the forefront of calling for uncommitted Democrats to make a choice soon after the last vote, said in an interview that Mrs. Clinton called him last week and urged him to “keep an open mind until the convention.”

While many Clinton associates have hinted in recent days that she may be prepared to concede the race next week in New York, Hillary is still calling superdelegates, including our own Governor, and asking them to keep their minds open "until the convention." It seems as though the reality is that Clinton has not made her mind up to concede just yet, and she may not make it up one way or another until next week.

Whether his supporters believe it or not, Barack Obama will be nominated as one of the most fractious and weakened nominees in the history of either major political party in America. This is not merely a case of a lot of people having voted against Obama (Clinton can now, it would seem, make a legitimate case that she is the popular vote leader-and this is the same party that wants to trash the electoral college. If the Democrats nominate Obama, their case against States' rights in the electoral college is dead as a doornail), but most of these people are simply opposed to Barack Obama. If the polls are to be believed, many people who voted for her did so as a way of voting against Obama-and they'll do it again in November.

Hillary Clinton is not stupid, this is a reality of which she is well aware, and that may be why she is still mulling going to the Democratic National Convention and engaging in a floor fight. Her appeal to the Honorable Phil Governor is especially noteworthy, because Hillary Clinton beat Obama soundly in Tennessee. Her performance outside of Nashville, Memphis, and Chattanooga was overwhelming. In a State where Barack Obama is not exactly Mr. Popular, and where John McCain may win by double digits, Bredesen may forced into giving Clinton's advice a second look.

Barack Obama will still be the Democratic nominee, whether it is this week, next week, or in Denver. However, he will be a badly wounded nominee when he finally claims his party's mantle. Half the party is opposed to him, and many (if not most) of those people do not believe he is electable.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Puerto Rico Primary


From last night: A discussion on the Puerto Rico Democratic Primary results. Adam Graham joins the show.

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The Dishonorable Path

Former Senator Bob Dole has admitted to e-mailing Scott McClellan on the subject of McClellan's critical new book about his time in the Bush Administration. I must admit, Dole seems to have a real point:

"There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don’t have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues." "No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits, and spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique."

I have no doubt that Scott McClellan's views are authentically his own. As I pointed out in this space last week, McClellan's book will likely spur a long-overdue discussion among conservatives about what went wrong with this Administration. Dole is quite right, however, in pointing out the less-than-honorable way McClellan has behaved-and it does reek of cheap profiteering.

How can I say that? I know for my own part that (hypothetically) if I were asked to take a job in the Bush Administration tomorrow, loyal Republican though I have always been, I could not do so with a clear conscience. The Administration has engaged in too many policy decisions that I believe are antithetical to conservatism itself. If Scott McClellan had a real problem with what was happening inside the White House, he needed to confront his superiors directly. If he wasn't satisfied with the answer he got from such an exchange, he should have resigned straightaway and then told his story. Instead, we hear not a word from McClellan until now.

Scott McClellan comes from an old Texas political family, so I doubt that his life or career would have been destroyed had he resigned his White House post quite some time ago and began to speak out. The idea that he would have been isolated is rather silly, as we can see by the press attention he is getting since the details of his book were made public.

The honorable thing for him to do was to have resigned and told the world why.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008


In 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three children at Fatima, Portugal six times on the 13th day of each month from May until October. In these remarkable apparitions, Our Lady detailed in ways these children could understand what would happen to the Church and the world in the 20th Century.

She foretold the end of World War I.

She warned that unless men repented and turned their hearts toward God, and ceased offending God and disrespecting the Mother of God, a far worse war would break out-World War II.

She instructed the children and all believers to pray the rosary "for the conversion of sinners and of Russia." If Russia were not consecrated to her, she warned, Russia would continue to spread her errors throughout the world and persecute the Church until this consecrating occurred. The Blessed Virgin was foretelling the rise of Soviet Communism, which began that November.

We now know that Our Lady also foretold an assassination attempt upon a Pope. In 1981, Pope John Paul II was nearly killed by the Turk Ali Acga-he survived, and placed the bullet from the assassination attempt into the crown on the statue of the Blessed Virgin at Fatima. John Paul consecrated not only Russia but the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Ten years later, the Soviet Union collapsed.

The Church in no way requires the faithful to believe in private apparitions such as the one that many believe occurred in Portugal in 1917. In 1930, the Bishop of Fatima declared the apparitions to be "worthy of belief."

I believe they happened.

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