What now for the Republican-Conservative conventicle?
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An early indication of whether he intends to pursue a comprehensive radical agenda will be his key personnel appointments. Obviously, Cabinet secretaries and agency heads are extremely important, both substantively and symbolically. But the workhorses of any presidency are senior White House staff, deputy secretaries and deputy administrators, and assistant secretaries and assistant administrators. If President-elect Obama fills these positions with members of the professoriate, union activists, environmental extremists and the like, then the country will be in for a very rough ride.
Jim Burnley served as secretary of transportation in the Reagan administration.
John H. Fund
American politics has shifted slightly but clearly to the left in the wake of Bush administration failures. But exit polls showed only 51 percent of Americans want government to do more for them. One of the most striking successes of Barack Obama’s campaign is that he was able to convince 19 percent of conservatives that he was going to cut their taxes, while only 12 percent of conservatives thought John McCain would do the same. Thus, even some conservatives could find a reason to vote for change in the person of Barack Obama.
As Democratic pollster Doug Schoen, who helped Bill Clinton win reelection in 1996, puts it: “This election is not a mandate for Democratic policies. Rather, it is a wholesale rejection of the policies of George W. Bush, Republicans, and to a lesser extent John McCain.”
If the Democrats govern as if there is no Republican Party, they are likely headed to the kind of reaction that Bill Clinton faced when he made the same misjudgment after the 1992 election victory, following a meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, with then Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and House Speaker Tom Foley. At that point, Clinton decided to defer to Congress on key elements of his legislative agenda, and the subsequent lurch to the left did incalculable damage to his presidency.
That may be one reason why Barack Obama has chosen Rahm Emanuel, a respected member of the congressional leadership, to become his new White House chief of staff. Someone will have to tell Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the first two years of Democratic dominance of Congress after their 2006 sweep has left them with a Congress that has an approval rating even below that of President Bush.
To the extent that Barack Obama is a successful president, it will be in direct proportion to how much he remains his own man and trusts the political instincts that have gotten him this far, this fast.
John H. Fund is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and The American Spectator’s Politics columnist.
The conservative movement has been hobbled, badly, for quite some time. Despite all of its influence, the Movement (I’ll capitalize from here on for clarity) has not had one of its own at the top of a presidential ticket since 1984. Worse, the Movement now claims only a minority of elected officials at virtually every level of government. Worse still, even some officials who are considered Movement types are seriously lacking in their ability to combine principle with practical politics. They just don’t know how to meld the two. They don’t understand how practical politics and principle are mutually reinforcing.
The central mission for the Movement, therefore, is to convince candidates and officeholders alike of the enduring truth that good principles (and good policies) are good politics. Here’s how the Movement should pursue that mission: A grand coalition of conservative leaders ought to combine forces for a Candidate Recruitment Political Action Committee—with great fanfare. It should use all its savvy and muscle to make its imprimatur essential for any candidate right of center, and should make crystal clear to voters nationwide why its candidates merit support.
It should do so by promulgating a clear statement of principles. (One model, perhaps too lengthy, can be found in the mission statement at www.conservativecompact.com.) It should then require every candidate who wants its endorsement to attend a weekend-long training session, perhaps modeled after those at the Leadership Institute, that would include an advance assignment to read every word of the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers, plus at least one popular-literature account of the 1787 Constitutional Convention. (Three good ones are Miracle at Philadelphia, by Catherine Drinker Bowen; Decision in Philadelphia by Christopher and James Collier; and A Brilliant Solution, by Carol Berkin.)
It would not be a wasted exercise. No better example can be cited for public servants trying to combine practical politics with principle, under pressure, for posterity, than can the Constitutional Convention.
Put that together with practical, hands-on training in modern political technology, and with an acclaimed CRPAC panel at the end of the training/selection process to make an endorsement in every federal race (along with vast organizational and financial support to go along with it), and suddenly you have a cadre of candidates who are fit for office and readily identifiable by the public.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online