An upstart political blog aspiring to keep alive the faint spirit of bipartisanship.
Your hosts: "On the Left" Mark Quincy Adams & "On the Right" Big Daddy Jeff

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Answer

Last time I wrote about my dilemma. Well, the problem has been solved. I decided not to get caught up in the front-running and stick to my guns. Today I proudly cast my Florida vote in the Republican primary for Mike Huckabee. He probably won't win. The polls indicate it will be a tight race between McCain and Romney. But I don't like either of those guys nearly as much as Huck. So in the end it's an easy choice to stick with the underdog. This fast-paced process is new and now is not the time to bail on a candidate who has done more with less than anyone else in the race on either side.

In a further display of my commitment, I saddled up with Chuck Norris and became a Team Huckabee Ranger. No, the Briscoe family budget sadly does not allow for a financial contribution at this time. But I do have one of those unlimited long-distance phone plans that I put to work for Mike Huckabee. Last week I was given a list of names and phone numbers of registered Republican voters in Brevard and Bay counties here in Florida. Over the weekend I called as many as I could and attempted to win them over.

Ironically, I did this once before. Back in the spring of 2000 prior to the Georgia primary I made calls for then longshot candidate John McCain. My how times have changed! Anyway it was fun to make the calls for Huckabee. I ended up leaving a lot of messages using the pro-life and 2nd amendment scripts as a guide for my words. But I was also able to speak to more than a few folks who seemed to appreciate that a real person was calling -- as opposed to all the recorded messages we've been getting from McCain, Romney, Jack Kemp, Bay Buchanan, Charlie Crist, etc. And then there were plenty of people who basically said (in the words of Bob Grant) "Get off my phone" and that was ok too!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Dilemma

So I think last week's post about race and the Democratic primary might have been just a little ahead of its time. Wow. What a crazy campaign! I continue to hope Barack resists the trap of getting in the mud with the Clintons. The temptation is understandable. But he has to realize that nobody can beat them there. Think about it -- Bill Clinton was impeached and still survived. You have to beat them on issues and character. You will never win with dirty politics.

Now a quick look at the GOP side. McCain has got the momentum and this time it is Florida taking center stage to see who has the edge going into Super Tuesday. Thompson is gone and Huckabee is strangely on life-support. How quickly things change. I have a feeling we will not see this kind of primary system ever again. It must bother the powers-that-be to deal with such uncertaintly.

Anyway here's my dilemma. There are 3 main groups of conservatives these days. There's the social conservatives, the fiscal conservatives, and the security conservatives. Of course many individuals and all the candidates claim an identity within each category. But ultimately, I believe at some point you have a main concern that takes priority. I have long felt mine to be in the social conservative side. That's not to say the others don't matter to me, but even after the disaster of the Bush presidency, I continue to believe our best shot at real leadership will come from within this group. In fact, this may still hold true were a Democrat like Edwards or Obama (who does not run from his faith) to become the president.

So back to the question. The top choices of social conservatives have been (in no particular order): Huckabee, Tancredo, Thompson, Brownback, and Hunter. As of today, they are all gone with the exception of Huckabee who's in real trouble after running out of money. It's not surprising because social cons will always lack the natural fund raising machines that those whom Wall Street favors enjoy (i.e. Romney, Giuliani). And money sure does talk. So I simply don't know what to do with my Florida vote. Strangely enough I am led in the direction of Ron Paul who is anything but a social con. However, unlike the trio of McCain, Giuliani, and Romney, at least I can rest assured that Paul actually believes in the principles on which he campaigns. But I also know voting for Paul is a throw-away vote. Then again, perhaps so too is Huckabee at this point. So I really don't know what to do.

I think I'll watch the Florida debate tomorrow night on MSNBC and deal with it later. Analysts say all guns will be aimed directly at new frontrunner McCain. Should be fun!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Race: Never an easy subject to calculate politically

As someone who rejects both overt bigotry and the more subtle forms including affirmative action, I think it would be truly nice if one's race was irrelevant to an election. However, since race is obviously still a vibrant issue in American culture, I guess we shouldn't be surprised that it has surfaced in the presidential election. But I wish it hadn't.

Obama supporters: be very careful. I understand you were upset by the tone and the use of some words by the Clintons referring to your candidate. Specifically the "fairy tale" description. I really do. But trust me -- you're not going to beat them at this game. In fact, your're falling into a trap.

Race has been deliberately injected into this campaign by the Clintons and it will indeed only help the Clintons. African-Americans, who otherwise might want to support Obama for reasons other than the color of his skin, are reminded of Bill Clinton's strong history of reaching out to the black community. And once again all the status-quo leaders of an important block of the Democratic party are thrust into the forefront and will be on their side (i.e. Bob Johnson, founder of BET). Simultaneously, in a way only the politically brilliant Clinton machine can achieve, a subtle message is sent to blue collar white Democrats who may always feel uneasy about race due to collective guilt for past injustices. And this too will push otherwise potential Obama voters into making the safe and easy choice of sticking with Clinton so that we don't resurrect any old wounds.

I don't know if I'm hitting on something big here or not. Probably not. But yet again -- here's another issue where I can't stand the Clintons but I sure do respect their ability to win. Here's hoping Obama steers clear of the trap and sticks to what he does best. If he stays true to his campaign thus far, he can still win in South Carolina. And that's what really matters now.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Reaching Across the Ballot Box

In an effort to reach across the aisle, I'm going to spend a little time talking about the Democratic field and what I like about it. Sadly, I must begin at the top by stating what I don't like about it: Hillary Clinton.

I'm probably the exact type of Republican voter that Democrats may want to consider as they go through the process of making their primary decisions. I despise the Clintons and will always do so. Back in 1992 Bill proudly said, "If you elect me, you get Hillary." Well, the same is true in reverse order some 16 years later.

I can now look back at the 1990s and admit the Clinton adminstration was far from all bad. In fact, I admire the social moderation and fiscal responsibility that Clinton displayed during his time in office. George W. Bush could definitely take a lesson. I think Bill Clinton became a new president in January 1995 when he had to deal with a Republican Congress. And while it literally almost broke him, in the end it enabled him to leave office with a fairly decent legacy. However, I can never overlook the personal shame he brought upon his office. That Hillary Clinton could do so only reflects poorly on her too, in my opinion.

Now back to the spirit of reaching across the aisle. Aside from Hillary, I have been greatly impressed by the Democratic field. Now only Barack Obama and John Edwards remain. Yet I think each could make a good president. They both bring communication skills and the potential for leadership that the office of the American president has not seen since the days of Ronald Reagan. Almost sounds superficial to ignore the specifics of issues but we all know just how much of politics is compromise. I laugh when I see all these candidates brag about "their plan." As if there has been a Congress in our nation's entire history who wouldn't shred a president's specific plan in a heartbeat in favor of leaving their own pork-friendly imprint upon the final details. The executive's best chance is and has always been effective communication.

I also like the youth, Washington inexperience, legal education, and work experience that Obama and Edwards would bring to the job. In other words, they are both relative DC outsiders when compared to Ms. Clinton. Beyond these two, Bill Richardson and Joe Biden each impressed me in numerous aspects, aside from their ability to run a popular campaign, of course.

If Edwards dropped out of the race now in promise of another shot at the vice-presidency, I think Barack Obama would be a lock for the Democratic nomination. Conversely, if Obama wasn't in the race, I think John Edwards would be the leading contender. But sadly neither scenario if the case. And that's why I think the road is still very tough for Senator Obama. Clinton has the old-school status-quo base firmly on her side. And that's a tough crowd to fight. I saw it on the other side of the aisle in past campaigns such as the one that nominated Bob Dole.

So I go back to my original consideration. Hey Democrats, I voted for my first ever Democratic candidate in 2006 by supporting Florida's incumbent Senator Bill Nelson. That was largely due to the fact that the Republicans nominated a candidate I could not vote for in good conscience. Now this same description also applies for me to about half of the remaining Republican field. Here's hoping the Democrats offer someone like me a legitimate alternative in the fall. I just may be tempted to give that person a shot. Just for kicks, if nothing else. But if it's another Clinton....well, my 2nd ever Democratic vote will just have to wait!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Since politics is really starting to become fun for me once again, I've decided that I need a forum for my thoughts. Even if only read by me or maybe MQA, there is an intrinsic worth in examining the issues and the candidates with word and seeing where one falls within that picture. Iowa and New Hampshire have now spoken. In less than 1 month we'll know the two individuals who will be the choices for our next president. With that said, let us begin.

The Democrats -- The lesson to re-learn from tonight is a familiar one: don't ever count out the Clintons. We should have known the writing was now on the wall for a Hillary victory when reports surfaced last night of Clinton dropping out of the campaign. Please. The Clintons and their familiar and trusted inner circle (James Carville, Lanny Davis, Ann Lewis, etc) don't like losing and, frankly, they simply don't do it much.

I think Hillary's surprise win in the New Hampshire primary means EVERYTHING. Obama had so much momentum beginning about a month ago with the great success of his campaigning with Oprah Winfrey. Almost nothing hadn't gone his way since then. And with Hillary still leading considerably in national polls, momentum was Obama's only ticket to an upset. He needed to use the dominoes of this new primary system where a series of small wins could make possible a large shakeup on Super Tuesday. But this is a real setback. Last spring I wrote that I thought he was essentially running for the ve-ep spot on a Hillary ticket. The past 6 weeks has proved me wrong about his motivations. But in the end, it still may be exactly the way it turns out.

How did the polls get it so wrong in such a small state with a limited voting population? My best guess is the power of the Clintons. They got the vote out. They worked the system. They did what they do best. Otherwise, there's the race theory. Did people talk themselves out of voting for Obama at the last minute to fall back on the status quo of another Clinton? Hope not. But I don't doubt it played at least a tiny factor. Also the presence of John Edwards in the race is killing Obama.

The Republicans -- Conversely, I don't read too much into McCain's victory. I do think it's possible he will emerge as the GOP's nomination. I've thought that all along because I still think the Republican party is self-destructive. The primogeniture theory has always played a part in the GOP's nominating process and it still may do so again. McCain can win in an attrition strategy. He needs the field to stay large and needs candidates to cancel each other out. In other words, he simply needs the most delegates.

Tonight's results pretty much end Fred Thompson's hopes. I look for him to drop out prior to Super Tuesday and immediatley endorse McCain. Romney's money will help him remain competitive, as will Huckabee's natural evangelical base. And Giuliani is still the strongest national GOP candidate. He's playing a dangerous game ignoring these early state contests but a win in Florida could lead to wins in the big states of Super Tuesday. And Ron Paul won't win, but he represents a cause and I'd expect him to continue to draw his 5%-10% of the vote wherever he goes.

After tonight, I concede both races are far from over. But I sure do fear Hillary Clinton FAR more than I did 24 hours ago. And that's a shame. Because she is the one candidate in the bunch I could never support. I greatly respect Obama and Edwards. And each of the GOP contenders have their own positives and negatives. But I still hate the Clintons!

There's nothing brilliant or ground-breaking from me here but I thought it was a good time to put down my thoughts. I think it's safe to narrow the combined field to 7 legitimate candidates. And I'll close with my odds following New Hampshire.

Clinton 3-1, Obama 6-1, Edwards 25-1. (Richardson - eliminated)
Giuliani 4-1, McCain 6-1, Huckabee 10-1, Romney 15-1. (Thompson - eliminated)

Anti - Inevitability?

The Democrats I was really surprised that Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primary. Seems that voters may have an anti-inevitability thing going on. When Hillary seemed a sure thing - Obama surged. When in the past few days (which may go down in history as temporary "Obamamania") when Barack looked to be rolling toward the nomination, Clinton got a surge of her own. Maybe Democratic voters want to keep the candidates from getting too comfortable in their front runner status?? Fairly or unfairly, Obama was seen to be acting like he had NH in the bag, I think that hurt him with voters who waited to decide until the last minute. Also, I think that jealousy between Iowa and NH was a factor in some voters not choosing Obama. NH wants to be different than Iowa. This could have been their way of showing it. I don't think race played a factor in the difference between the pre-election polls and the result in NH. At any rate - we do have a race here folks and it could be one of the most interesting in years.

The Republicans Same level of excitement now on the GOP side. McCain won NH as expected and now seems to be their front runner. Romney, by placing second again, must win Michigan to remain viable. Mike Huckabee got 11% - about what expected and a very respectable third place. He's still in a very strong position for the upcoming contests and I think he should be considered a co-front runner with McCain. Giuliani barely beat Ron Paul and seems to be placing all his hope on Florida. Personally, I think he is through. Fred Thompson got only 1% - disappointing even by the low expectations he went into NH. Unless he gets a victory before Super Tuesday (2/5) he will probably exit the race he so reluctantly entered in the first place.

Since Jeff is giving odds - I'll try my hand at it too.
Obama 4-1, Clinton 5-1, , Edwards 50-1. Richardson 500-1
Huckabee 5-1, McCain 7-1, Romney 25-1, Giuliani 75-1, Thompson 75-1