Scott Walker’s Out, and I May Be, Too.

This is not the primary we thought we would be having. But it’s the kind of primary we should have expected.

Every four years, Republican voters hope to get a new candidate vetted by debate and campaign who articulates conservative principles, recommends conservative policies, and demonstrates the qualities of a leader. Instead, we get one of the also-rans from last time.

Trump ran before. It was a joke, and over quick, but he did it. He got his name out there. He got a sense of how the game was played. So now he’s back and sucking the air out of the room. He may bully his way into the nomination. He may even troll his way into the White House (the Democrats are that weak). But what kind of President would he be? God alone knows. I won’t vote to find out.

What I wanted was a Governor with teeth, who had belligerently put forward the kind of policies that excite me. Who had a record of trimming Leviathan’s claws without apology. Rick Perry was such a fellow. So was Scott Walker. Now, I cast about for the candidates and I struggle to care. Below, a List of the Remaining, and whether I could vote for any of them.

  • Jeb Bush. The Mitt Romney of 2016. The Establishment choice. Would he be better than any Democrat? Yes. But no more than his father and brother were, and I don’t think the party needs any more of that. No.
  • Dr. Ben Carson. He seems a decent bloke. He’s got a soft-spoken demeanor that appeals in small doses. He gives good quote. But he just doesn’t seem Presidential. But that’s a very subjective standard, and so I withhold judgement. Maybe.
  • Chris Christie. I used to love this guy. He was the kind of frame-shifting bellicose Republican whom more should be like. But now he seems less bellicose and more bullying. I question whether he’s really conservative or just plays one in New Jersey. And he sold us out in 2012. Maybe not deliberately, but he sold us out. I won’t trust him, and I won’t vote for him. No.
  • Jim Gilmore. Who? Does this guy really have the guns for this? Is this a serious candidacy? Or his he trying to put a chit in for 2020? Maybe, I guess?
  • Ted Cruz. The Brain in the race, and arguable the last true conservative standing. Maybe now he starts making some real moves. So far I’ve respected his strategy of staying out of Trump’s way and letting other chumps go after him. But I feel like he may need to take a few casual swipes just to remind people he’s in this. However, his policy statements are impeccable, and he’d make the Left furious. Yes.
  • Lindsey Graham. Speaking of sellouts. Lindsey Graham reminds me of a stupider Bill Clinton. He’s not fit to lick Ted Cruz’s shoes, and he’s nobody’s idea of a President. No.
  •  Mike Huckabee. What is this, his third race now? Does this man not get hints? Does God need to write the words “THIS COUNTRY WILL NOT ELECT A MAN WITH A HILLBILLY SURNAME” in the sky before he stops? He’s only a social conservative, anyway. He’s never had a chance, he never will, and I’m not going to bother pretending otherwise. No.
  • Bobby Jindal. I like Bobby Jindal. I really do. Maybe he’ll get Scott Walker’s spot in the big-kid debate. But he’s never quite risen to the occasion as a candidate. I feel like this is the next bit of scrim under the rudderless Trump bus. But if he somehow managed to overcome the odds? I could see no reason to refuse him. Yes.
  • John Kasich. He’s not exactly what I had in mind, but he might do. Maybe he’d have some crossover centrist appeal. And maybe he’s just a poorer Jeb Bush. Maybe.
  • George Pataki. Please. This guy stopped being a figure in national politics ages ago. He couldn’t win his home state if he gave out free gravy fries. This is a vanity run. No.
  • Rand Paul. I was kind of hoping that this guy would be the saner version of his dad, that he would articulate the Libertarian vision in a way that GOP primary voters could get behind. Instead he’s chosen to focus on picking unnecessary fights, and then fight them poorly. That doesn’t bode well for the one-time Most Interesting Man in Politics. Yes, but Who Are We Kidding?
  • Marco Rubio. The worst thing about Maro Rubio is he may end up the best bet Conservatives have. I can totally foresee a scenario under which we’re rallying behind this guy in South Carolina or Georgia or something to stop a juggernaut. I suppose I could hold my nose to vote for him, but only if he does something impressive. Otherwise he’ll just be a tanner George Bush. Maybe.
  • Rick Santorum. Knock it off, Rick Santorum. You’re not going to win. Just because you were the last man standing against Romney last time doesn’t mean anyone wants to vote for you. See “Huckabee”.

    And finally….

  • Carly Fiorina. It’s a measure of how well she’s done so far that CNN took the morning to swipe at her business record. So far, she’s the only one that’s tussled with Trump and come out on top. I have to respect that. It’s too early to tell yet, but she just might have what it takes. Yes.

So what does that leave us?

I will vote GOP without apology in 2016 for: Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina.

I can be persuaded to vote for: Ben Carson, Jim Gilmore, Jon Kasich, Marco Rubio.

I will vote Libertarian if faced withJeb Bush, Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump.

And if we remove the names of people who I don’t think have a prayer of getting the nod, that gives us:

Will Vote For: Cruz, Jindal, Fiorina

Could Vote For: Carson, Rubio

Nope: Bush, Christie, Trump.

Which means there are five scenarios under which I could care about GOP candidate, and three under which I will wash my hands of them.

I guess that means I’m no longer the guy who held his nose for Dole, Bush (the first time around), McCain, and Romney. But the campaign is young.

Friday Linkfest: This, That, and T’other

It’s not the post that Friday needs, but the post the Friday deserves:

Peace out, cub scouts. Have a great weekend.

Richard Epstein Needs to Get Over His Rand Paul Problem

Richard Epstein is a smart guy. He writes sound columns, he advances strong arguments consistently. And his current column, ostensibly about Rand Paul but really about the difference between libertarians and “classical liberals”, (h/t Insty) can be counted as one of that number. I have never considered myself a hard-core libertarian, and would probably land on the classical liberal side, with Epstein, if push came to shove.

But telling Rand Paul to move to the center puts a glaring spotlight on the problem on the right.

Libertarians aren’t right about everything. They have, like any ideologues, blind-spots. But those blind spots are tiny motes compared to the vast black holes of reality found amongst progressives. In the wake of everything the progs have done to our body politic these last six years, I struggle to care about the libertarian problems with copyright law. That doesn’t mean I don’t consider copyright law a worthy issue, merely less worthy of my time at this juncture than dismantling ObamaCare and reigning in the NSA.

I may not be a libertarian, but libertarians are my allies. I think well of them and want them to advance their arguments. If they are successful in convincing just one more person about the greater value of liberty vis-a-vis another government-bloating progressive social crusade, then that is to the benefit of classical liberals. If they can argue soundly in favor of a flat tax, we can argue, on similar principle, in favor of other things. Our points of disagreement are not anywhere near as much of a problem as Epstein suggests. Take this graph:

Precisely for this reason, the vigorous “antitax” strand of hard-line libertarian thought has never commended itself to classical liberals like myself, who recognize the need for taxation to support the institutions of social order. Usually that view cashes out into a defense of a unified flat tax on either income or, preferably, consumption. That view is in evident tension with antitax activists like Grover Norquist, whose focus is current tax struggles and not general political theory. Norquist wants to shrink government “to the size where we can drown it in a bath-tub.” The classical liberal avoids such over-the-top rhetoric. Instead, he seeks to maximize the net social gain from the tax system, so that each taxpayer receives a bundle of government services whose value exceeds the cost of the tax.

Am I really supposed to not help Grover Norquist shrink government, because he might someday shrink it too much? Does anyone doubt that if Norquist shrunk the size of government half as much as he wanted to, he wouldn’t consider that a win? And can’t we have this debate about this hypothetical too-small government at that hypothetical moment?

Look, it doesn’t hurt to point out distinctions between one mode of thinking and another. Distinctions are good things. But this column is warning us against a danger too remote to be considered. If Rand Paul pushes his way into the White House, tearing up copyright law isn’t going to be the first thing he does. It isn’t even going to be the thousandth.

Third Parties – A Breitbart Retrospective

Big Government has a series on the history of Third Parties and the possibilities of a Third Party run in 2016. They’re all worth the read, but there’s no page for all of them: I had to do an internal search to find them from the beginning (though of course all of them are linked on the last in the series) It’s a Five-Part series, and four have been posted.

Part 1 highlights the political mood of the populace vis-a-vis the major parties. Everone is mad:

Still, looking ahead to the 2014 midterm elections, members of Congress in both parties might be a bit unnerved by yet another Pew data point showing that just 23 percent of Americans approve of the national legislature. To be sure, approval of individual lawmakers is much higher, but when overall disapproval is that high, there’s the distinct possibility that a “throw the bums out” election could be on the way.

Enh. Such things rarely manifest into actual action. It’s always the other guy’s Representative who is a swine, never yours. And most of them are in “safe” districts so even the two-party opposition is helpless.

Part 2 discusses the history of third parties, from the rise of the GOP and concomitant implosion of the Whigs in the 1850’s, to the Populists, Progressives, Dixiecrats, and Perot’s Reform Party. The upshot is that since the collapse of the Whigs, both parties have become adept at co-opting third parties.

Part 3 explores the No Labels moevment as the seed of a centrist third party. Basically, they’re too small-ball to inspire boldness, too generically good-government to really fit into a conservative’s or a progressive’s conception of why the government exists and what it should do. They want to “fix problems” but they don’t want to challenge

Part 4 looks at Rand Paul and the Tea Parties, and concludes that the Tea Parties and liberty-minded folk have no intention of bolting from the GOP, and that people tend to talk more libertarian than they actually vote. Both of which are almost certainly true. But, as Professor Reynolds likes to say, things that can’t go on forever, won’t. If the GOP continues their policy of pre-emptive surrender, the libertarians within the party will find themselves without a choice. If entitlements continue to be un-fixed, we’re going to find ourselves in the bracing anarchy of default libertarianism.

I will post Part 5 here when it appears.

When Rand Paul Feels Sad, He Stops Being Sad and is Awesome Instead.

True Story.

We are the party that adheres to the Constitution. We will not let the liberals tread on the Second Amendment!

We will fight to defend the entire Bill of Rights from the right to trial by jury to the right to be free from unlawful searches.

We will stand up against excessive government power wherever we see it.

We cannot and will not allow any President to act as if he were a king.

We will not let any President use executive orders to impinge on the Second Amendment.

We will not tolerate secret lists of American citizens who can be killed without trial.

Montesquieu wrote that there can be no liberty when the executive branch and the legislative branch are combined. Separation of powers is a bedrock principle of our Constitution.

We took the President to court over his unconstitutional recess appointments and won.

If necessary, we will take him to court again if he attempts to legislate by executive order.

Read the Whole Thing.


Rand Paul Suggests the Containment Strategy for Islamic Terror

It’s not a bad idea. Containment was more than just a military strategy; it was a holistic assessment of the weakness of the Soviet Union, an assessment that turned out, on the whole, to be right.

In Kennan’s famous X article he argues that containment meant the “application of counter-force at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points, corresponding to the shifts and manoeuvres of Soviet policy.” He later clarified, though, that did not necessarily mean that the application of counter-force had to mean a military response. He argued that containment was not a strategy to counter “entirely by military means.”  “But containment was not diplomacy [alone] either.”

Like communism, radical Islam is an ideology with worldwide reach. Containing radical Islam requires a worldwide strategy like containment. It requires counterforce at a series of constantly shifting worldwide points. But counterforce does not necessarily mean large-scale land wars with hundreds of thousands of troops nor does it always mean a military action at all.

Read the whole thing.

No, Rand Paul Should Not Skip the Presidential Campaign…

I never liked Ron Paul. His positions were sound, and I found myself in agreement with many of them. But somehow he just rubbed me the wrong way. He seemed too snarky to be statesmanlike, his past was unsavory at best, and he had a tendency to use leftist arguments that I found frankly offensive. But if he had won the nom, would I have voted for him over Obama? You damn betcha.

When Rand Paul first got into a snit with the iron-jawed Rachel Maddow (I speak out of envy. My chin is comparatively weak), I dumped all over Paul in a post called, politely, “Rand Paul is not a Bigot, Just a Dumb Libertarian.” Which is to say, I mostly dumped all over Libertarians, for their positively Progressive ability to hunt-down heretics. If I were writing that post today, I would probably write it differently.

Because as it turned out, Rand Paul did not suffer from his encounter with Rachel Maddow. And his insistence on speaking to first principles may have been just the natural consequence of the qualities about him that I do like. I still don’t think it was smart, because debating the Civil Rights Act is a non-starter, especially when the Affordable Care Act is a rather more pressing concern. But whatever.

As forceful, unapologetic advocates for liberty come, Paul is among the best of them, and he stated bluntly what everyone should be screaming from the hilltops, which is that Hillary Clinton is a preening gasbag unfit to represent the United States to the penguins in Antartica.

So I must disagree with Matt K. Lewis of the Daily Caller, who seems to insinuate that this

Rand Paul fellow is just too gosh-darned spooky-seeming to run for President.

The 2016 elections are a long way off, but it’s not too early to ask this question: Is Rand Paul really the best messenger for 21st century conservatism — in this political environment — with so much at stake?

Yeah, I think it is too early. Because it got asked several million times over the course of the last election, all in service of nominating a squeaky-clean Rockefellerite who — in case you missed it — just got beat to a shivering pulp by the most unpopular two-term President in our lifetime. We thought we had Jimmy Carter on our hands, yet for some reason we decided to run Thomas Dewey against him. So yeah, Lewis, too soon.

I’m not speaking as a Rand Paul advocate — I’m not even sure I would vote for him in a primary right now. But I’m damned certain I want the chance to make up my own mind on the subject. And this craven self-censoring of our own candidates, based on what the Left might do, is inane. Whoever we nominate will be called a racist. Whoever we nominate will be called dumb. Whoever we nominate will be called an atavistic honky (or Uncle Tom, if he should happen to be not-white), unlearned in how “real Americans” live.

Rand Paul knows this, and responds to it with an assured “go to hell, you fascist goon.” More of that, please.

UPDATE: Rand Paul asks John Kerry “Why is it okay to Bomb Libya without Congressional authorization, but not Cambodia?”

That’s just satisfying, that’s all that is…