Political Hay

Political Hay

With Conservatives Like These…

By 5.5.15

Much of the discussion about Jeb Bush nowadays — on paper, over the air, and down to various watering holes at happy hour — seems to be a search for a tell-all label. Is he a conservative? Is he a moderate? Is he a liberal? The answer to every one of these questions is yes. He’s all of the above. But this doesn’t tell you much. With Jeb, who hopes to be Bush III, those wishing to take his political measure need to drill deeper into specifics than with most candidates.

Before conservative audiences, Bush, and those whooping him up, can justifiably point to Bush’s two terms as Florida’s governor where he cut taxes, cut the number of state employees, reined in affirmative action in state matters, and pushed for more accountability in the state’s bloated education industry. Then and now he’s been consistently pro-life and pro-Second Amendment. He says he admires Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and considers Antonin Scalia the most interesting of the court’s opinion writers.

Political Hay

Could Alberta Vote Socialist?

By 5.4.15

For eighty years, Alberta has been Canada’s most conservative province. It was in 1935, three decades after attaining its provincial status, that Albertans elected the Social Credit Party to power under the leadership of the populist Evangelical preacher “Bible” Bill Aberhart. He advocated that Alberta establish its own currency in the form of $25 monthly “social credits” to promote greater consumption during the Great Depression. Although this pledge would never materialize, the Social Credit Party would remain in power for 36 years, mostly under the conservative leadership of Ernest Manning (whose son Preston would lead Canada’s Reform Party during the late 1980s and most of the 1990s).

Political Hay

Money In Politics? No Problem.

By 5.4.15

There will be no problem with money in politics this year. Such problems arise only when Republicans have more money than Democrats.

Hillary Clinton has let it get about that she will be spending $2.5 billion this time. If that number is even roughly accurate, it means that she will spend far more than all of her Republican opponents combined.

Hillary will portray the $2.5 billion as (a) a way to get her message out, (b) a way to make the process more inclusive and (c) a way to fight back against the scourges of Wichita, the Koch brothers. Somebody, somewhere will buy her story.

You could say that if the Koch brothers didn’t exist the Democrats would have to invent them. You could say that, but you would be wrong. The Democrats did invent the Koch brothers. Over the past six years, the Koch fundraising circle, as estimable as it is, has never been even remotely competitive with the Obama money machine. Over the next two, it won’t be even remotely competitive with the Clinton machine. The Koch brothers, alas, rarely dominate elections. They just play political villains on TV.

Political Hay

Donald Trump Slams Government By Race

By 4.30.15

Wow. The Washington Post now reports this headline on the riot surrounding the death of Freddie Gray:

Prisoner in van said Freddie Gray was ‘banging against the walls’ during ride

The Post’s major story says a “prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray ‘banging against the walls’ of the vehicle and believed that he ‘was intentionally trying to injure himself….’” 

In other words? The Post is implying a black man in a majority-ruled black city where some 40 percent of the cops are African Americans was deliberately trying to injure himself. The effect of which would be to make it look like he was abused by the police of a black-run city. If the Post is correct? Nothing race-centric there. Wow again.

Political Hay

Hillary’s Appearance Is Fair Game

By 4.29.15

At the White House Correspondents’ dinner, Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong asked all media attendees to raise their hands and pledge that they would “solemnly swear not to talk about Hillary’s appearance because that is not journalism.” It was a joke but also something more.

It was part of a growing multitude of demands made by Hillary supporters of what is and what is not appropriate to say about their chosen candidate. It also supported the notion that Hillary’s greatest obstacle is that infamous “glass ceiling” of gender bias that has denied a woman the ultimate seat of power in the White House.

Strong’s chastisement was, of course, met with loud and prolonged cheers. Media members and their celebrity guests, the two most appearance-obsessed demographics in the United States (something a follow-up joke by Strong alluded to), cheered the sentiment. The audience consensus was clear — Hillary’s personal appearance was off limits because any such observations were proof of sexist, patriarchal bias.

Political Hay

Doctor Carson Goes to Detroit

By 4.24.15

On May 4, when Dr. Ben Carson walks to the stage of the Detroit Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, he will likely be thinking about the principles that made this country great, about the financial and moral dangers our country is in, and about the rise of our adversaries around the globe including ISIS, Iran, North Korea, and growing aggression from Russia and China.

He will know that thousands of people look to him to solve these issues and to lead an American renewal. He will know that efforts to fund his campaign outdid “Ready for Hillary” efforts at one point and give promise to the kind of money and network that might just fund a winning presidential primary campaign. He is a man of serious faith and he will have prayed for guidance.

Dr. Carson will walk to the podium, look out at the cheering crowd and the flashing cameras and he will tell them how he intends to fight for the future of this country.

He should say something like this:

Political Hay

New Rules, New Game

By 4.23.15

(Editor’s Note: Debra J. Saunders is off. The following column is by Jackie Gingrich Cushman.)

It’s official, the 2016 presidential race is underway. At first glance, the matchup might look similar to the one we saw in each of the last few cycles: the inevitable Democratic nominee against dozens of Republican candidates. But it’s not.

The Republican National Committee announced in January new rules regarding sanctioned debates. This, combined with a fuller field of “top-tier” Republican candidates, will result in a much different Republican primary process than we saw four years ago.

The events started on May 5, 2011, in Greenville, South Carolina, and ended on March 3, 2012, in Wilmington, Ohio. Between those two dates, there were 27 forums and debates, 20 of which were sanctioned by the RNC.

Political Hay

Lincoln for President!

By 4.20.15

Few political observers were surprised in May of 2013 when Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee completed his leftward ideological makeover and became a Democrat.

During his seven years in the Senate, Chafee was consistently the most liberal Republican. Yet that only went so far with Ocean State voters, some of the nation’s most devoutly Democratic. In the November 2006 Democratic wave, Chafee got tossed from office — after only narrowly surviving a Republican primary challenge from the right.

Undaunted, Chafee in 2010 sought — and won — the Rhode Island governorship as an independent. In Providence, he governed from the left, proposing an array of tax increases. He memorably refused to call the Christmas tree at the Rhode Island State House what it was. He referred to the towering fir, decorated with lights, tinsel, and toys, as a “holiday tree,” insisting that “I’m representing all of Rhode Island, I have to be respectful of everyone.”

Chafee finally just became a Democrat. But in September 2013, facing low approval ratings, he announced he would not seek re-election for a second term as governor.

Political Hay

Sister Act: Clinton-Warren ’16

By 4.13.15

Now that Hillary Clinton has officially confirmed that she will be seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016 there is only one question that remains.

What will Elizabeth Warren do?

There is no question that Hillary has taken a hit in the e-mail scandal. Her favorability ratings have fallen below 50% for the first time since April 2008. She has now fallen behind in the polls against Republican rival Rand Paul in both Iowa and Colorado. This same poll also concludes that voters no longer consider her “honest and trustworthy.” 

Political Hay

Back and Forth With Rand Paul

By 4.10.15

Senator Rand Paul rose to national prominence in March of 2013 during his 13-hour filibuster against the nomination of John Brennan to run the CIA. It showed fortitude, principles, and a strong bladder in the face of Brennan’s belief that it was okay for the federal government to target and kill American citizens with drones.

At that point, he had many in the Republican Party willing to “stand with Rand.” However, now he’s standing to run for the Republican nomination for president. Many of his erstwhile allies aren’t so sure that’s a good idea.

Having principles is great, but elected officials have to use them to move the political needle. That involves compromise. Paul voted against a bill proposed by Senator Ted Cruz to limit the National Security Agency’s ability to spy on Americans. It failed in part because Paul refused to support it. Because he believes it did not go far enough, the NSA is still allowed to carry on with business as usual.