As a number of interesting things have been occurring this week, herewith are thoughts on a hodgepodge of issues and developments rather than an essay on just one theme. In the end, I’ll even move off politics into loftier realms of interest.
First, the conservative blogosphere has justifiably been full this week of reports from Ohio GOP gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Blackwell’s interview with bloggers at the Heritage Foundation. (For two examples, see here and here.) I therefore won’t rehash most of what Mr. Blackwell said, although I will repeat these two quotes that, in person, sounded especially good in the context and forcefulness with which he put them:
1) “It’s a simple principle:… Capital seeks the path of least resistance and most opportunity. … A confiscatory tax code [is] the handmaiden of big government,” and it harms the economy.
2) “The flip side of poverty is wealth creation….There is an upward-mobility tradition in our society.” Black voters, too, understand that we can “build an asset base that actually wins the war on poverty.” And Blackwell, who would become the first black governor in Ohio’s history, said he is aiming for a majority of the black vote.
To which I add: If there is any one candidacy that should interest conservatives this year, it is Blackwell’s. He’s the real deal, a principled conservative on issues across the board, and he’s impressive as can be. He has proved his vote-getting potential as mayor of Cincinnati and as a thrice-elected statewide officeholder.
Second, as long as we’re talking about conservatives to watch, here’s a personal, top-of-the-head list of ones who have perhaps the potential to make a big, positive difference in years to come. Two of them are up for re-election in tough races this year, Pennsylvania’s Sen. Rick Santorum and Missouri’s Sen. Jim Talent. Arizona’s Jon Kyl has a slightly easier, but not sure-thing, race. Not up for re-election this year, meanwhile, is Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, a truly fine and fearless advocate for conservative ideals.
In the House, of course, rising superstars are Mike Pence and perhaps John Shadegg. At the SEC, chairman (and former U.S. Rep.) Chris Cox is brilliant and principled, and could superbly handle a promotion to any of about five different jobs. In the judiciary, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and John Roberts should do great things for many years hence; at the circuit level, we’re lucky to have Bill Pryor and Brett Kavanaugh.
Among governors, Alabama’s Bob Riley is too little appreciated nationally; he has done a spectacular job after a rocky start. South Carolina’s Mark Sanford and of course Florida’s Jeb Bush also merit many plaudits.
And out there in political retirement, but not forgotten and, one hopes, still interested in an eventual comeback is California’s former U.S. Rep. James Rogan.
Third, with regard to the SEC’s Chris Cox, he hit a home run on Wednesday in forcing publicly held companies to more clearly disclose to shareholders the compensation of top executives. Sunlight is a good thing.
Fourth, Rep. Pence and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison have put together a superb package on immigration reform. It combines truly tough border security (which must be in place and certified effective for two years before the other parts kick in) with the Pence/Helen Krieble program that will set up a market-based system for guest workers run from centers outside the United States and requiring all currently illegal workers to leave the United States before becoming eligible for the program. Sen. Hutchinson added several other good ideas as well; all told, this bill is both creative and conservative, through and through. That’s why a host of leading conservatives already have endorsed it.
Fifth, Congress may finally be doing something right on energy production. The Senate is moving strongly toward passage of a bill that will open more coastal waters for drilling and that will share revenues with the states that allow it (which should eventually provide the incentives for more states to push for allowing drilling off their coasts, even if Florida never does and never will be forced to do so). And the White House now seems to be going along not just with the drilling, but with the revenue sharing it previously had opposed. (See here.) Now if only Congress also would do more to boost refining capacity (e.g., here), maybe this nation would finally be on a path toward eventually keeping gasoline and other energy prices comparatively low again. Oh…and for that matter, anybody who opposes drilling in ANWR has no right, ever, ever, ever, to complain about high energy prices or energy shortages.
Sixth, it’s time for Sen. Lindsey Graham to stop obstructing the nomination of W. James Haynes to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and for both the White House and Senate to do more and work harder to confirm judicial nominees — including with time for floor debate, and the invocation of the “constitutional option” to outlaw filibusters on judicial nominees, if necessary. (See here and here.) And as Ed Whelan points out at Bench Memos, other judicial nominees are getting a raw deal, too, including Michael Wallace of Mississippi.
Seventh, it’s past time for the Bush administration to put substantially more troops on the ground in Iraq. It’s time for a major offensive and a final push toward something actually identifiable as victory.
FINALLY, ON TO SOMETHING really important, because it’s pretty much an oasis of purity in the midst of a world marred by violence and other ills: Golf. Amidst the justifiable praise for Tiger Woods’ flawless ball-striking in winning the British Open and for yet another gritty challenge by second-place finisher Chris DiMarco, fans may have missed signs that the U.S. Ryder Cup team might be in a big heap of trouble. Of the players who entered the week from 6th through 18th on the Ryder Cup points list (top 10 qualify, plus two captain’s picks), only one, Vaughn Taylor, made the Open cut, and he finished a poor 66th. After the week, spots 7 through 12 were held by utterly unproven J.J. Henry, Zach Johnson, Brett Wetterich, John Rollins, Taylor, and Lucas Glover. Of those, only Rollins and Taylor have more than one victory — and Rollins’s second one came at the weak-field B.C. Open held at the same time as the British Open, while both of Taylor’s came at the weak-field Reno-Tahoe Open, i.e., neither against tough competition — while not a single one of them has seriously contended at a major tournament.
Fourth on the points list is Chad Campbell, a rising star but streaky. Fifth is David Toms, who missed both the U.S. Open and the British Open with a bad back. Second on the list is Phil Mickelson, who has a seriously checkered history at the Ryder Cup and whose psyche is still questionable after his U.S. Open meltdown.
What’s desperately needed is for one of the 7-through-12 guys to prove himself with a serious challenge at the PGA next month, or, better yet, for a proven vet or a guy with a decent pedigree to find his game. In the latter category, Davis Love III has been AWOL since the match play championship in the winter, Fred Couples AWOL since his putter let him down badly at the Masters, Captain Tom Lehman hasn’t won in five years and hasn’t played well since a hot streak during the winter months, and Justin Leonard has so far had his worst year ever as a pro. Other decently pedigreed players who would be welcome if they step up their games are Stewart Cink (currently 18th on the points list), Billy Mayfair (19th), Scott Verplank (21st), Ben Curtis (23rd), Steve Stricker (25th), Jeff Maggert (26th), or even aging proven competitors such as Paul Azinger or Corey Pavin or, if he gets his head and swing right again, the intimidating John Daly.
But please, won’t somebody with some star power step up to the plate? If we can’t make the world behave in foreign affairs, can’t we at least find a victory in a realm where rules and honor are sacrosanct?