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.

Forget it, Rick. It’s Maryland.

Maryland has been run by an oligarchy of high-minded swine since at least 1655, when a band of scurrilous Puritan rebels defeated the forces of Lord Baltimore at the Battle of the Severn. Today, Maryland is more or less a wholly owned subsidiary of the federal government. I mean that in the literal sense; the demographic weight of the state sits along the I-95 corridor between DC and Baltimore, and the vast majority of those between Prince George’s and Baltimore County work for the federal government. They don’t vote Democratic, they breathe Democratic.

All of which made yesterday both significant and meaningless. Significant because for the first time I can recall, the Maryland primary was actually contested, and not a rubber stamp on the pre-nominee’s victory. Meaningless because: it’s Maryland, Gateway to the Northeast, and the mass of the GOP minority here was in Romney’s pocket from the beginning.

I was picking up Chinese food last night and got spotted with my “I voted” sticker by a Ron Paul voter. We chatted a bit, friendly-like, and both came to a happy conclusion: that Romney marks the return of the Rockefeller Republican. And here in the Northeast, Rockefeller’s ghost, the 1964 might-have-been, still clatters about, shaking his chains, always threatening the Democrat kleptocracies, and never harming them.

Thus, the truth of fellow Marylander Stacy McCain’s lament:

Of course, Maryland is a very liberal state and, as such, is considered a shoo-in for the former governor of Massachusetts, so Mitt Romney will pick up 37 delegates in a state he’s got zero chance of winning in November. Because he’s inevitable! And electable!

Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.

Three Wins, Three Speeches

It seems as though everyone had something to celebrate from last night’s primaries (except of course, Ron Paul. Doubtless he had a moral victory). I watched most of the speeches last night, and these are the impressions they made on me:

  • Newt Gingrich came across as a bulldog, but a bulldog that spent way too much time talking about the past. No one cares about 1994 right now. We know your record, that’s the only reason you’re in this thing at all. And making specific reference to your debate skills sounds like desperate resume-plumping (even if he managed a decent quip about Obama’s teleprompter).
  • Santorum, speaking off the cuff, came across as sincere, but wandering. When Santorum is on, he speaks with great clarity about fundamental liberty and the looming tyranny of the Progressive Leviathan. But he needed the focus and passion of a Presidential candidate. Last night sounded more like the warm-up speech at a PAC dinner.
  • I went to bed before I was done watching Romney’s speech, but what I saw was good, by the standards of the evening. He drew sharp contrasts between the President and himself, and made the hard sell of himself as the relief for working Americans. Santorum talked about this too, but Romney’s lines were polished, and for Romney, sincere. Best line of the night: “I say to these Americans, that you have not failed. I say that you have a President who has failed you.”

So what’s the upshot? There isn’t one. Romney grabbed more delegates but didn’t put either guy away. Santorum is prepared to go to the convention if need be, and Gingrich, with a win in Georgia and an endorsement from Sarah Palin, has what he needs to keep going.

Which means that . . .

Into the Hysteria

Rick Santorum is apparently a killer. Because he wants to ban amniocentesis.

Except what he actually said was this:

Free prenatal testing “saves money in health care. Why? Because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and therefore less care that has to be done, because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society.”

So what I guess I see him saying is that prenatal testing, if a matter of choice, ought to be a matter of payment as well. Which, I can’t really argue with.

This is the problem I keep seeing in the contraception/abortion brouhaha: the equivocation of refusing to pay for with banning. Surely, if these tests are so wonderful, they’re worth the money.

But spiraling health care costs! Indeed. Which is a separate issue. If we had a sensible health care system in which prices reflected actual costs, matters would be different. Instead, we find ourselves forced to assent to things out of egalitarian obligation. Which is how our health care system became screwed to begin with.

One thing I don’t understand is the need to perform an abortion on a fetus with a small chance at life. Why kill what’s going to die anyway? Why not give a human a chance, however remote?

And that’s why I’ve never been able to embrace abortion as a moral act. Opponents of abortion are consistently told that they have no right to judge another’s hard, painful choice. And maybe so. But abortion itself includes an act of judgement, and of a far starker kind. To abort a child is to say “This human is unworthy to live.”

And that does not become less true if you tell me how unworthy I am to say it. Stipulate that I have no standing, due to the unfortunate placement of my organs of generation outside my abdominal cavity. Stipulate that I have never walked, and can never walk, down the sad cruel, road of a woman with an unwanted baby. Stipulate that I do not understand.

The question “Who are you to judge?” still applies evenly.

Assail at will.

Santorum Commits the Deadly Sin of Politics…

he does not pretend to agree with everyone. (h/t: Memeorandum)

When Barack Obama was campaigning for president in 2008, he declared that marriage is between a man and a woman. For the most part, his position was treated as a nonissue.

Now Rick Santorum is campaigning for president. He too says that marriage is between a man and a woman. What a different reaction he gets.

There’s no mystery why. Mr. Santorum is attacked because everyone understands that he means what he says.

President Obama, by contrast, gets a pass because everyone understands—nudge nudge, wink wink—that he’s not telling the truth. The press understands that this is just one of those things a Democratic candidate has to say so he doesn’t rile up the great unwashed.

And that’s why Tea Partiers are turning toward Santorum. Not because his policies and voting record are Tea Partyish — they aren’t. But scaling down government is but one side of the Tea Party. The other side, which we saw in glorious bloom in 2009, is the satisfaction of telling truth to power. Of asking representatives and senators “Look, just who the hell do you think you are?”

If Santorum doesn’t quite have that (no lawyer-cum-Senator possibly could), he does have a bracing determination to say “This is who I am. This is what I think. This is why.” So the Tea Party finds in him a kindred spirit.

Where it goes from there, I’ve no idea. But I wish him luck.

Ace of Spades to Become Insufferable Until the Convention…

…Hobo Hunting Licenses hardest hit.

Basically, its the 2010 Delaware Senate election all over again, wherein Ace inveighed for Rockefeller-ite Mike Castle rather than crypto-wiccan and professional campaigner Christine O’Donnell. The comment threads during that period brimmed with sightings of RINO horns and proclamations of doom.

Except this time, he’s capitulated to the Stormin’ Mormon, to the point of trumpeting deeply weak accusations of Flip-Floppery against Rick Santorum (for just how weak, see Protein Wisdom). True to form, the comment threads are hitting 1,000 plus as a matter of course, and the salty tears of rage on all sides are picquant and delicious.

And why? Because someone somewhere has dubbed Romney “electable,” that mystical invocation powerful enough to propel John Kerry to the 2004 Democrat nomination. How did that work out again?

In any case, aside from the Daily Doom™, there’s no point in reading Ace for politics until the general election. He’s not going be satisfied until all the Not-Mitts are dead and buried, or every social conservative is driven from his site, whichever happens first.

Pity the man. He was so effective in underlining how much Romney sucked, his audience believed him.

To read what I have thought about these primaries, click here.

Ace of Spades Discovers that Rick Santorum is Catholic

And worse, when pressed to discuss the Catholic position on birth control and sexuality, he doesn’t hide in the bushes, but stands for his positions like a man.

Naturally this makes him unacceptable as a Presidential candidate.

The comments explode with the imaginary fear that Santorum is going to outlaw birth control (he isn’t, and said that the government shouldn’t), and general wackiness ensues.

So Ace is either lying back, closing his eyes and thinking of England for Romney, or he’s waiting for that Generic Republican fellow to enter the race.

“Do we want employment and a tax holiday to reinvigorate this sector of the economy? Or would we rather buy the media spin that Santorum wants to stone gays?”

Jeff Goldstein makes the case that uber-Catholic Santorum will be less of a threat to our liberties than uber-Progressive Obama.

Moreover, that Santorum’s willingness to defend his positions will ultimately redound to his advantage. Even people who disagree will say “Hey, at least he holds his opinions honestly. And honestly, I need a job.”

Sure the progressive cultural lobbies (feminists, gay activists) will freak, but that’s like saying the sun will rise on the morrow or that a thing cannot both be and not be at the same time. It is axiomatic in the Democratic Party that the GOP nominee HATES(!) womyn and gheys. Hence their response to same is as the tides: regular as clockwork.

So what do we gain by nominating a milquetoast moderate from Massachusetts?

Aside from an excuse that conservatism cannot be blamed, I mean.

Rick Santorum is Mad

Can’t say I blame him.

It deserves pointing out that Santorum is the only one whose hands are in any way clean on this issue. Gingrich’s are not clean, and all great Neptune’s oceans will not wash Romney’s.

Look, I like Newt Gingrich. Always have. He’s got fire in the belly, and he’s smart. But I too wonder if the Presidency requires some stability, and Santorum has that in spades.

We shall see.

Why Newt Won.

Erick Erickson casts everything in terms of the base in revolt (h/t: memeorandum) against “a milquetoast moderate from Massachusetts” (a phrase so good, Erickson can’t resist repeating it).

In every way in the last two weeks, Romney has signaled he won’t fight for the base. He looks like a lost child when trying to answer the taxes issue. He couldn’t stand up to Santorum in the debate. He sounds every bit like Gordon Gekko, not Milton Friedman, when he talks Bain and free markets.

Basically, today’s vote is about Republican grassroots giving the Washington Republican establishment the finger. The base is angry, and right now, only Newt is left to fight for them, as imperfect as he is. We may still end up with Romney, but voters aren’t going to let him have it easily.

He then links to this piece by Ben Domenech, which collects an informal polling of South Carolinians into a trice of reasons that all amount to the same thing.

Gingrich initially rose, and Perry fell, due to the overabundance of debates this cycle. Everyone – and again, Thursday’s debate was in Charleston – cited this as significant, and Gingrich’s performances in the past two debates have impressed them even as Romney (hounded by Santorum on Romneycare, meandering on his tax returns) turned in arguably two of his worst performances. Consider: both Gingrich and Romney saw the questions coming – Gingrich on his ex-wife, Romney on his tax returns. One was prepared to defend himself, and one seemingly was not.

What this, and his weathering of media attacks, amounts to is that Newt Fights. He fights to defend himself and conservatism. He does so with passion and intelligence. And GOP voters may decide that such is the very thing to finally exorcise the spirit of George W. “Strategery” Bush.

Now, in Florida, or anywhere else, Newt’s bulldog style may cause him more trouble. Stacy McCain remains unconvinced after reading Erickson’s piece that Newt is really the Last Man Standing.

While nobody has appointed me the Omniscient Arbiter, authorized to write articles titled “What It Means,” I can summarize what one of Santorum’s supporters told me last night about what he expects: Newt and Mitt are going to attempt to destroy each other, and all the while Santorum will keep on campaigning, arguing that he is the “conviction conservative,” steadily accruing support from those conservatives who don’t like either Newt or Mitt.

That may indeed be how it works out. Santorum, now the acknowledged winner in Iowa, made a decent if not stunning third-place showing in South Carolina. Which means, although he hasn’t yet done it for me, that he is managing to overcome some of the So-Whatness of his candidacy. By many accounts, his debate performances have been solid if not explosive. In the end, Solid Santorum may find himself the nominee over the Explosive Gingrich.

But none of that matters right now. What matters right now is that the Inevitability Express has been shut down due to lack of interest. What matters now is that my primary vote just might matter. What matters now is that a certain milquetoast moderate from Massachusetts will recieve the message that if he wants to be the President of the United States, he’d best grow a pair.