Monday, June 27, 2011

Help Me Raise $250 For Mitt Romney's 2012 Campaign

Mitt Romney has created an innovative way to raise money by letting you set up your own donation page on his website. I signed up and I have created my own donation page in which I have a fundraising goal of raising $250 for his campaign.
The reason why I set up a fundrasing page is that I truly believe that the most qualified person for the Presidency in 2012 is Mitt Romney. That is why I am so bold in soliciting donations on behalf of Romney's campaign because given the current economic state of America, we need someone who is 100% focused on the economy. Obama has never taken the economy seriously and our economy won't turn around unless we elect someone who will make the economy the number one priority of his campaign. 
As our nation struggles to reduce our deficit, American needs a leader who has the experience and fortitude to make tough decisions. When Mitt entered into the Massachusetts Governor's office in 2003, he was a left with a massive deficit of approximately $3 billion. When he left office, the state had a $2 Billion surplus.
Mitt Romney knows how to create jobs. Again, when he Mitt entered into the Massachusetts Governor's office in 2003, the state was ranked bottom as the 50th state in job creation. When Romney left office in 2007, the state was 11th in job creation. 
Not only does Mitt Romney have the best qualifications for the White House, he has the experience in actually creating jobs and getting out of debt. He knows what it takes for businesses to succeed and how to make America competitive in the global market. Mitt Romney knows the importance of reducing taxes, regulation and making government smaller so that Americans can get back on the road to prosperity.
As I result, I ask that you please help me reach my goal of $250 by donating whatever amount you can in order to help Mitt Romney become the next President of the United States.

Failing To Learn From Europe

As President Obama meets with Congressional leaders to squabble on whether or not to raise the debt ceiling, I am amazed at how our leaders fail to learn the lessons of what is going on in Europe.  As we argue about the ramification of raising or not raising the debt ceiling, how much government spending we should have and what our tax rate should be, we act as if what is going on in Europe will not happen to us here. 
For example, France, Ireland and Italy have either had their credit rating lowered or are under threat of having their credit rating lowered by Moody’s Investors Service. Moody's isn't the only one lowering the credit rating of these nations. Other companies have lowered them too. For example, one company has lowered Greece to junk bond status.
Yet, we act like the consequences of the reduction in credit ratings felt by these countries won't happen to us despite the fact that Moody's and other credit rating companies have been threatening to reduce America's credit rating.  Moody warned us that it would reduce our credit rating back in January of 2011 and has just recently issued another warning. Having our credit rating would be bad news for America and yet we continue to ignore these warnings.
As as result of massive debt and a loss in credit ratings, many countries in Europe such as Spain, Portugal, Ireland, England, France, Italy, Latvia, and many other European countries have enacted tough austerity measures in order to reduce their public debt. Yet, many of these countries are experiencing massive social unrest because people are unhappy with the austerity measures. Greece is constantly getting rocked by protesters who demand to keep the status quo. Spain is now experiencing protesters too. 
John E. Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo, has warned that the United States is on a path of insolvency much like Greece and Portugal are: 
To me—being in Europe for a few days—the plot in Greece and Portugal sounds an awful lot like the same plot that's going on in the United States. But the characters have different names," he said.
As the deadline for a budget agreement looms in Congress, Silvia told CNBC that the US must recognize that the moderate economic growth forecast by most economists for the country will fail to generate the tax revenue necessary to fund long-running government entitlement spending.
"We have to make some arrangements in terms of cutting back the promises that were made by prior politicians for these entitlements," Silvia said.
"(We've had) forty years of political promises to give people certain entitlements, certain benefits. And we've now come to understand that the United States is in a very difficult position than it was in the early post-World War II period. We're not the dominant economy. And our pace of growth has moderated. Our ability to finance this is all limited." 
Judd Gregg (R-Nh) is another voice who has raised concerns about the U.S. spending and how it contributes to the increasing U.S. deficit. He has stated that the financial future of the United States looks grim unless makes major changes in its spending habits:
Chief among Gregg's concerns is the massive deficit under which the U.S. is currently operating. Gregg says the economy is on an "unsustainable track" that, if continued at its current pace, "will double the federal debt in five years, and triple it in 10 years." Gregg compared financial problems here in the U.S. to those Greece is currently having, noting that while the U.S. is a "more vibrant nation, we are still on the exact same track" as the troubled country when it comes to finances.
Gregg insists we need to cut spending, especially as the nation gets ready to take on "70 million retirees" as opposed to the "35 million retirees" the U.S. is currently sustaining via Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs.
The Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher has issued the same warning as well stating that unless we make serious changes now, then the debate will revolve around when will America go bankrupt:
"If we continue down on the path on which the fiscal authorities put us, we will become insolvent, the question is when," Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said in a question and answer session after delivering a speech at the University of Frankfurt. "The short-term negotiations are very important, I look at this as a tipping point."
But what is going on in Europe will happen here, if we fail to take immediate action to fix our economy. We have the ability to avoid the problems that Europe is going through. There are many people who have been warning us that we are following down the same path as Europe. 
However, the President doesn't want to learn from Europe. He wants to emulate Europe by enacting expensive programs like starting new rail road projects, ObamaCare, and a host of other unfordable government projects. 
George Santayana famously said that "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Unless we learn from the mistakes of Europe, then we are doomed to repeat it too. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Time Magazine Is Wrong About The Constitution

Time magazine's main article, One Document, Under Siege which created quite an uproar among conservatives because the main thrust of the article was that the Constitution is a document that is no longer relevant because of changes in technology and culture and that it is an obstacle to political, social and economic progress. 
Almost every line in the article is absolutely wrong. here are just too many things that I would like to refute in the article. However, there is one claim in the article that I cannot restrain myself from blasting to pieces. Richard Stengel, the author of this article, asserts the reason that the Constitution remains the most powerful document in the world is because the American people love liberty and freedom:
A constitution in and of itself guarantees nothing. Bolshevik Russia had a constitution, as did Nazi Germany. Cuba and Libya have constitutions. A constitution must embody something that is in the hearts of the people. In the midst of World War II, the great judge Learned Hand gave a speech in New York City's Central Park that came to be known as "The Spirit of Liberty." It was a dark time, with freedom and liberty under threat in Europe. Hand noted that we are Americans by choice, not birth. That we are Americans precisely because we seek liberty and freedom — not only freedom from oppression but freedom of speech and belief and action. "What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty?" he asked. "I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it." 
While Americans do love liberty and freedom, that is not the reason why the U.S. Constitution remains the most powerful document in the world. In Timothy R.Clark's  Desert News article, What My Grandma Taught Me About The Constitution, points out that rampant corruption, which is how most societies operated throughout human history, prevents liberty and freedom from occurring:
The United States Constitution is perhaps America’s most important export. It has influenced the chartering documents of many nations, beginning with France and Poland in the 1780s. But the long-term results are not so good. Although a stack of constitutions has been erected after the American model, corrupt leaders almost always chew up and spit out the ink and paper of high ideals. Most attempts to imitate or reproduce the world's most important charter, penned by the then 31-year-old James Madison, have been dead on arrival.
Why? Because most societies are endemically corrupt. Like a cancer, corruption influences, alters or stops basic processes such as commerce, capital flows, the expansion and delivery of education and the making of public policy. It shuts down civil society.
Timothy Clark goes on to point out that the Constitution is only as good as its leaders and citizens
At root, civil society is based on preconditions of ethical leadership and public virtue. We believe in the rule of law, but the rule of law is only enforceable through the unenforceable support of private citizens — a line of defense that is easily swept aside when corruption becomes endemic.
A constitution is nothing but a set of institutional arrangements. Yes, there is genius in the arrangements of the U.S. Constitution. But they don’t hold themselves up. We do. It’s the character of the citizens. It is the unapologetic support of Judeo-Christian values. It’s equal emphasis on both rights and responsibility.
In his inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson said, “Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?”
In other words, society depends on the integrity of each and every individual. John Adams famously explained that the Constitution was made for a society that promoted and cherished the integrity of the individual:
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Foreign Policy Magazine, in writing about the collapse of the Soviet Union, explains that the real reason the communist country fell in 1989 was because everyone was tired of the corruption that was rampant in society. They wanted a more moral society. Gorbachev's Prime Minster made the shocking admission that Soviet Union was not great because because it relied on corruption to maintain power: 
To Gorbachev's prime minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, the "moral [nravstennoe] state of the society" in 1985 was its "most terrifying" feature:
[We] stole from ourselves, took and gave bribes, lied in the reports, in newspapers, from high podiums, wallowed in our lies, hung medals on one another. And all of this -- from top to bottom and from bottom to top.
Although the Soviet Union fell many years ago, Russia is still struggling to figure out how to make freedom and liberty work. Many Arab nations are now  trying to figure out how to make freedom and liberty work in the Middle East. Why are they struggling to make freedom work in their own lands?
The reason why they are struggling is because they assume that freedom comes when you eliminate corruption in the nation's economic, social, and political institutions by revising the policies, programs of the various institutions or even rewriting the Constitution to mirror the American constitution. In other words, they think that if they make the institutions good and moral, freedom will come.  
However, the Founding Fathers wisely realized that it was the other way around. If you make the people moral, virtuous and religious, then the public and private institutions of society will be morally good and in turn, it will create a free, democratic and good nation.

I fear that we are in danger of falling for the same erroneous assumption  that freedom comes if we only can make the institutions of society good. When you look back in history of how governments used oppression and corruption to keep the state going, America is the exception to the rule. That is the idea of American exceptionalism.

In the end, The United States Constitution matters, not because we love liberty and freedom, but that liberty and freedom comes only if the individuals themselves remain good and virtuous.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mitt Romney's Quest To Eliminate Corruption In Massachusetts State Senate

The recent arrest of James "Whitey" Bulger, a famous Irish Mobster who made a name for himself in the mean streets of Boston and manipulating the local FBI into assisting him in eliminating rival mob families. There are alot of articles out there highlighting his crimes, his shenanigans with the FBI and his 16 years on the run from the police authority. 
While many articles talk about the negative aspects of this man's life, there is a positive news article that talks about how Mitt Romney made it is mission to remove Billy Bulger, the younger brother of James Bulger, from the Massachusetts State Senate: 
The FBI’s arrest of Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger ended a 16-year-old hunt for a notorious career criminal who was immortalized by the Martin Scorsese film The Departed, loosely based on his story. But it should also remind us of one of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s finest hours.
Bulger was part of an extraordinary Irish-American immigrant family who represented the best and worst of the American experience. While Whitey became the head of the Irish mafia in Boston, his younger brother William went to college and became a lawyer before going into politics. Billy Bulger spent 35 years in the Massachusetts legislature, including 18 as the powerful president of the State Senate. In 1996, he was appointed president of the University of Massachusetts system, a position of enormous prestige and power.
It speaks volumes about the nature of Boston’s political life in that era that the brother of a crime boss could rise to the top of the state’s political system. Cynics could be forgiven for wondering whether Billy’s success was linked to Whitey’s activities, even though the politician publicly pretended not to know what his beloved big brother did for a living. But it’s just as possible Billy’s political power also helped Whitey and his Winter Hill Gang.
But the pretense Billy knew nothing about Whitey’s crimes was exploded once his brother went on the lam in 1995. After years of exploiting his role as an FBI mob informant that enabled him to both knock off criminal rivals and evade prosecution, Whitey was indicted. But, thanks to his FBI informant, he escaped capture. His brother, who was still the president of the Massachusetts State Senate, may have aided the escape of the man wanted in connection with 19 murders as well as drug trafficking. What we do know for sure is Billy spoke with his fugitive brother via elaborate procedures designed to evade police detection and made no effort to help the authorities bring him to justice. In 2003, Bulger was summoned to a congressional hearing to testify about the case. But even though he was granted immunity from prosecution, when probed as to his connections with his brother, Billy gave evasive answers and demonstrated selective memory loss.
That such a morally compromised person could continue as the head of a state university system was considered nothing exceptional in the world of Irish Democratic politics in the Bay state. Billy could, after all, count on the support of Senator Edward Kennedy, Michael Dukakis and a host of other Massachusetts power brokers. But neither Billy nor his friends counted on the determination of Mitt Romney to make good on a campaign promise to oust the UMass president. Romney conducted a relentless campaign of pressure on Bulger to resign his office. He finally succeeded in August 2003 when Bulger quit.
Now that Whitey has finally been run to ground, it is appropriate for us to recall this odd chapter of political history and give Romney his due. Mitt Romney has been rightly accused of being a flip-flopper who will shift his views depending on the audience to which he is speaking or seeking votes. But whatever else you can say about him, he refused to play ball with the corrupt crowd running Massachusetts for decades. In bringing down Billy Bulger, he succeeded where other well-intentioned politicians and law enforcement officials failed. Though he hopes to achieve greater things in the future, the Bulger case may have been Romney’s finest hour to date.
I strongly disagree with the author's claim that Mitt Romney is a flip flopper but that is my only complaint with this article. What this article shows is that Mitt Romney is no milquetoast when it comes to fighting political corruption or crime. 
There were scores of politicians and law enforcement officers who didn't have the courage to do what was right. They didn't have capability to take Billy Bulger down because they were either tainted by their own corrupt deeds, became too cozy with Billy Bulger or they didn't want to make waves with the the President of the Massachusetts State Senate.
Yet, Mitt Romney told the people of Massachusetts that he would take get rid of Billy Bulger and he kept his commitment both in word and in action. Mitt Romney could have pleased the political crowd and not gone after Billy Bulger but instead he choose to please the right kind of people--the people of Massachusetts.
When people think of someone who is a flip flopper, they think of someone who has no courage and convictions and will go with whatever is convenient for them. I think this episode destroys the idea that Mitt Romney will say and do whatever it takes for him to please the crowd.
Instead, it shows the true strength and character of Mitt Romney. He has and that he was persistent and relentless in his pursuit to remove a very corrupt man from Beacon Hill. He did the right thing even many power brokers and powerful law enforcement officials wouldn't or couldn't.
That's the kind of president we need. Someone who is persistent and relentless on what ever issue it is whether it be crime or corruption or the economy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Why Mitt Romney Came Out As The Winner In The SBA Pledge Controversy

Mitt Romney has received criticism for refusing to sign the Susan B. Anthony List's (SBL) pledge on abortion. Here is the actual wording of the pledge:
I PLEDGE that I will only support candidates for President who are committed to protecting Life. I demand that any candidate I support commit to these positions:
FIRST, to nominate to the U.S. federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, not legislating from the bench;
SECOND, to select only pro-life appointees for relevant Cabinet and Executive Branch positions, in particular the head of National Institutes of Health, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health & Human Services;
THIRD, to advance pro-life legislation to permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion in all domestic and international spending programs, and defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions;
FOURTH, advance and sign into law a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.
As a result of the uproar over not signing the pledge, Mitt Romney released a statement why he didn't sign the pledge:
I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
I support the reversal of Roe v. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine. Roe was a misguided ruling that was a result of a small group of activist federal judges legislating from the bench.
I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. And as president, I will support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood, which primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services. 
I will reinstate the Mexico City Policy to ensure that nongovernmental organizations that receive funding from America refrain from performing or promoting abortion services, as a method of family planning, in other countries.  This includes ending American funding for any United Nations or other foreign assistance program that promotes or performs abortions on women around the world.
I will advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion. 
And perhaps most importantly, I will only appoint judges who adhere to the Constitution and the laws as they are written, not as they want them to be written.
As much as I share the goals of the Susan B. Anthony List, its well-meaning pledge is overly broad and would have unintended consequences. That is why I could not sign it. It is one thing to end federal funding for an organization like Planned Parenthood; it is entirely another to end all federal funding for thousands of hospitals across America. That is precisely what the pledge would demand and require of a president who signed it. 
The pledge also unduly burdens a president’s ability to appoint the most qualified individuals to a broad array of key positions in the federal government. I would expect every one of my appointees to carry out my policies on abortion and every other issue, irrespective of their personal views.
If I have the opportunity to serve as our nation’s next president, I commit to doing everything in my power to cultivate, promote, and support a culture of life in America.
The group responded to Mitt Romney's statement by saying that Mitt Romney's refusal to sign the pledge raises more questions about him than it provides answers about him. 
The truth is, ladies and gentlemen, is that this whole affair raises more questions about the SBA. Why is the SBA so angry about Mitt Romney's refusal for signing the document but not others? Why did the SBA give contradictory interpretations of their pledge both publicly and privately? Did the SBA coach some candidates but not others on the meaning of the pledge? Why did the SBA refuse to rewrite their pledge after it was clear that the document was poorly written and very flawed? 
One of the reasons why the SBA is upset with Mitt Romney's refusal to sign the document is because he doesn't think that the SBA should be dictating who he should select and not select in his administration. Yet,  contained in SBA's response is an admission that they want to restrict the President's right to select qualified people who will serve in the "relevant Cabinet and Executive Branch positions, in particular the head of National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health & Human Services, and the Department of Justice." Here's their admission:
He seems to indicate that he wants the freedom to nominate pro-abortion candidates for key cabinet positions such as Attorney General or Secretary of Health and Human Services. This is precisely what we want to rule out and it is unacceptable. 
Given this admission by the SBA, signing the pledge is a lose-lose situation for any candidate. If he signs it, he'll get attacked by the left for being a candidate who is willing to take orders from an extreme right wing special interest group and how the social conservatives are imposing their religious views on the country. If he does sign it, he will make some social conservative unhappy if the signer of the pledge doesn't do exactly what they want. 
There's another reason why this is a lose-lose situation for any candidate who signs this pledge. Consider this: if a candidate doesn't follow the pledge, how will the organization enforce the breach of the pledge? 
The answer is that there's nothing they can do except use it as a weapon to attack the candidate if they don't go along with their views.
And that's what we're seeing in this dumb controversy with Mitt Romney.  Its not like he agreed to the pledge and then abandoned it. He didn't sign it and now he's getting attacked for refusing to sign it. 
Mitt's refusal to sign the document reveals how arbitrary SBA's criticism of 2012 candidates can be. Jennifer Rubin, writing for the Washington Post, points out that the SBA was quietly giving various campaigns interpretations on their pledge that was not consistent in their public interpretation of the pledge and as a result were being selective about which candidate they upset with:
I asked repeatedly during expansive back-and-forth e-mail exchanges on Saturday why Cain was excluded. After multiple inquiries in which other information was provided but my query about Cain was not addressed, a SBA spokesman e-mailed, “Cain disagrees on advancing a federal fetal pain bill.” That seemed to be fine with the group.
But it turns out that not all candidates were treated fairly. When I asked about these two issues, Rick Santorum’s spokesman said that his campaign got an “interpretation” from SBA that the funding language applied to only abortion providers, not other entities or affiliated entities. Was this in writing? No. Whom did the candidate talk to? No answer.
I asked SBA why it gave a different explanation of its pledge to only one campaign. A spokesman said, “ Campaigns who had questions got clarification.” But if the pledge was not interpreted the same for all candidates, would the group reissue it? Not exactly. An SBA spokesman said that with its clarification “Romney et al. can sign without fear.” But SBA is going to unleash its grass roots.( “Our grass roots will be encouraging them to sign.”) However, since SBA is not going to redo the statement, candidates would be expected to sign a pledge with language that doesn’t mean what it says. And did the group mean to include every executive branch appointment must be filled by a pro-life person or just Cabinet officials? Ya got me.
As a result, Jennifer Rubin realized that the SBA was not being upfront about the interpretation of the pledge to the media or to the various political campaigns who signed it. They deny that the pledge was poorly written and the language was too broad and yet the SBA was interpreting it differently when communicating with the various campaigns privately. But we now know that the SBA is arbitrarily interpreting its own pledge depending on which candidate they're talking to. 
One blogger thinks that the private communications that the SBA made with the other 2012 candidates was not just an innocent inquiry over the meaning of the pledge but that the SBA was intentionally coaching the campaigns on what the pledge was supposed to mean:
They even went so far as to give “tips” to the other candidates, explaining what the pledge’s verbiage “was supposed to mean,” as opposed to what it really said.  That sort of assistance that was never offered to the Romney campaign, according to what an SBA spokesperson told the Washington Post.
Regardless of how you interpret the facts, one thing is clear: the SBA was not being honest about how they were publicly and privately interpreting the language of their own pledge. 
This led Jennifer Rubin to wonder why the SBA choose to club Mitt Romney but not Herman Cain for not signing the pledge. Despite the SBA's denial that they purposefully targeting Mitt Romney, she couldn't get a credible explanation for why they were only irate with Romney:
I spoke to Dannenfelser by phone Sunday morning. Why did she issue a statement criticizing Romney but not Herman Cain? “No one asked about Cain,” she said. (The result, however, was that only one was the target of a pointed public statement.) But she assured me that both Cain and Romney would be the focus of grass-roots efforts to get the candidates to sign the pledge. She insisted that in conversations with Romney adviser Peter Flaherty she explained that the pledge — despite clear written language on defunding providers to the contrary — didn’t extend beyond abortion providers. In the end she said that the two sides “agreed to disagree.” 
As a reminder, the Tim Pawlenty camp also thought the language meant what it said: “Advance pro-life legislation to permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion in all domestic and international spending programs, and defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions” [emphasis added].
For some reason, the SBA is upset with Mitt Romney for not signing the pledge. They're also upset with Mitt Romney because he claims that they pledge would call for him to end all federal funding for thousands of hospitals across America simply because they are following the law with respect to abortion. Tim Pawlenty read the pledge and came to the same conclusion that Mitt did. 
The SBA denies that the proper interpretation of their pledge and they're angry with Mitt Romney for pointing it out but not angry at Tim Pawlenty for coming to the same conclusion. The only conclusion I can come up with is that the SBA is at least happy that T-Paw signed the pledge but are dismayed that Mitt didn't.
In the end, the only people who got hurt in this controversy is the SBA. The fact that Mitt Romney refused to sign the pledge shouldn't come as a surprise. The pledge was poorly written and could be broadly interpreted enough to have unintended consequences. 
They're also mad at Mitt because he doesn't agree that the SBA should have the ability to say who he will pick in his administration even though the SBA has admitted that is what they want. 
In comparing Mitt Romney's statement with SBA's pledge, Mitt Romney is a much better commitment to the pro-life cause than the SBA's. His pledge was clear, consistent, and restrained. The SBA's pledge has major flaws that should have been addressed before any candidate signed it. Instead, many of the candidates signed it despite the fact that the SBA hasn't been consistent about the meaning of their own pledge. 
The fact that some people signed this pledge without reading the fine print or verifying the significance of the terms of the pledge reveals that that the candidate is not only dumb for signing it, but that they don't possess the heuvos to come out with their own position on abortion. 
Unlike Mitt Romney who came out and stated what his beliefs are, all the other candidates will explain their position on abortion by simply point to the SBA pledge. They're stuck with the SBA pledge now. Any candidate who gives further clarification what their position on abortion is has to do it without contradicting or offending the SBA.  
Any leader who is willing to let a special interest group dictate who will or will not serve in their presidential administration is not a leader worth voting for because it boxes the candidate in both in on the campaign trail and in the presidency. By agreeing to this pledge, the candidate is essentially admitting that they are as rigid in their thinking and inflexible in their actions as the S.B.A. group.
The conservative website, Red State, which is no fan of Mitt Romney, has made this very same point:
Look, I understand SBA List’s motivation here but their execution was way off, in my opinion, and I think the candidates that rushed to sign this pledge, politicians all, have locked themselves into bad policy right from the get go… if they think this wont come back to haunt them, should they win the White House, they have another thing coming. Of course, they have the option of doing what most politicians do once they get elected and ignore the pledge but that’s not going to win them any points either.
The only loser in this stupid controversy is the SBA. They wrote a poorly written pledge and refused to redraft it. They look stupid since they can't even be consistent on the meaning of their own pledge that they put out for candidates to sign. Not only that, it doesn't look good for them if there is even a hint of suspicion or possibility that they're coaching some candidates but not others on the interpretation of the pledge. 
Furthermore, the SBA is attempting to have an influence on the decisions that the next President of the United States makes with regards to decisions about who they hire in their administration,  who they will select as the next Supreme Court justice and which laws they will support. The American people will not stand for a group with that much influence over a President nor will they allow such a candidate to ever enter office who is capable of being used by a special interest group in this manner. As a result, the SBA's influence has become diminished as a result of this stupid controversy that is of their own making.
In the end, Mitt Romney did the right thing by not signing the pledge. He gave the American people a more clearly written and better commitment to the pro-life cause that is unencumbered by special interest groups. Its his own personal declaration of his beliefs and positions about abortion. The American people now have a choice. They can either support a candidate whose positions on abortion is not their own but is that of a special interest group or they can support a candidate who beliefs are his own.
Which candidate would you choose to be a leader: the one who thinks for themselves or the one that lets others do the thinking for them?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How About a Romney/Bachmann Ticket!? I Say, Yes!

A while ago, I was quiet excited about the idea of a Romney-Cain ticket. However, after watching the CNN Debate, I think most Americans, such as myself, would really be really thrilled about a Romney-Bachmann ticket. James Taranto, writing for the Wall Street Journal, thinks this would make for a formidable team against Obama:  
A Romney-Bachmann ticket would be balanced in terms of ideology (he's moderate, she's conservative), governing style (he's technocratic, she's idealistic), religion (he's Mormon, she's evangelical) and, of course, sex.
This column has no brief for Romney, but strictly as political analysis, we'd say a Romney-Bachmann ticket looks more formidable than the McCain-Palin ticket that lost in 2008. Romney, unlike McCain, has executive and private-sector experience. He's in his mid-60s, old enough that his maturity makes for an attractive contrast with Barack Obama, but not so old that anyone will wonder if he's up to the job.
A Romney-Palin ticket would balance each other out well in other ways too: 
Like another Massachusetts governor who ran for president, Romney would promise "competence, not ideology"--although Michael Dukakis actually was an ideologue of the liberal left. But again, Romney looks better than McCain, who offered a lack of vision but no reason to think he was a competent administrator.

As for Bachmann, her biggest advantage over Sarah Palin may be that she is now running for president. That means that if Romney were to name her a year hence, she would be a far more familiar and media-savvy politician than Palin was in 2008. She would be much less vulnerable to both smears from the partisan media and unforced errors like Palin's disastrous interview with Katie Couric, whoever that is. For those who care about such things, the presence of a woman on the ticket might serve as an excuse to vote against re-electing the first black president.
No doubt, a Romney-Bachmann team is much better than a Romney-Cain ticket. Michelle Bachmann certainly outshined Herman Cain at the CNN Debate. She came across as more knowledgeable, confident and articulate than Cain did. In fact, she did much better at the debates than everyone else except for Mitt Romney. Not bad for a women on her first day as an official candidate for the 2012 election. 
The other reason why I like Michelle Bachmann is because she would absolutely slaughter Joe Biden in the Vice Presidential debates. Herman Cain would have no problem debating Joe Biden on substantive issues. But when it comes to articulating his views in a debate format, he would have a hard time against the vice President. 
Personally, I'm sold on this idea. What about you?

Rick Santorum Thinks Christian Voters Can Look Beyond Romney and Huntsman's Faith

With all the news about Mitt Romney surging in the polls after the CNN Debate, I don't want Rick Santorum's comments about Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman's faith to go unnoticed: 
Social conservative Rick Santorum told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he hopes Christian voters can overlook Jon Huntsman's and Mitt Romney's Mormon faith.
Santorum, a devout Catholic, weighed in on the debate between evangelicals and Mormons during a Sunday television interview with moderator David Gregory.
Gregory asked the former Pennsylvania senator if Huntsman and Romney will have problems in the race as Mormons. Santorum answered, "I hope not."
He continued, "I hope that people will look at the qualities of candidates and look at what they believe and what they're for and look their records and then make a decision."
Santorum, a champion for social conservative issues, is the latest to weigh in on the contentious question, should Christians support a Mormon candidate for president.
As a Mormon myself, I appreciate Rick Santorum's comments. Catholics can understand the challenges that Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman faces because many people were unwilling to vote for John F. Kennedy merely because he was a Catholic.
I look forward to the day when people will stop refusing to vote for a candidate merely because they are Jewish, Hindu, Mormon, Catholic, Buddhist, Evangelical, Zoroastrian, Muslim, Baptist, B'hai; or if they are atheist or agnostic. A candidate's religion, or lack there of, should not be an issue in any election in the future regardless if it is local, state or national campaign. 
People should focus on the candidate's political experience, values and positions. In other words, its all about a candidate's qualification, not his religion. There are a lot of great candidates in the 2012 election who have great resumes and who have conservative values. However, among the field of very qualified candidates, we're looking for the most qualified person for the job. We're looking for the best of the best.
As a result, the number one question of this election is this: who is the most qualified person to be President?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Facebook "Likes" Reveal Who Won Last Night's Debates: Mitt Romney!!

If you're still unsure that Mitt Romney was the winner of last night's CNN debate, Facebook gives a compelling indication that the majority of facebook users thought Mitt Romney was the winner of that debate:
Other than the extreme cases of one-on-one landslides, like John F. Kennedy Jr. vs. Richard Nixon, there is really no scientific method of determining the victor of a political debate, so why not use Facebook likes?
That was the approach taken by Likester, which analyzed Monday night’s debate between Republican presidential candidates by using Facebook like totals for respective candidates’ pages, as well as the number of likes added Monday night.
The winner of the debate, according to Likester: Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who leads the field with 955,748 likes (at the time of Likester’s post), adding 19,658 Monday.
Coming in second was Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), who ranks No. 3 in likes, at 335,457, adding 9,232 Monday.
Third place, according to Likester, went to Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), who places second in overall likes, at 390,945, picking up 8,717 Monday.
Likester awarded fourth place to businessman Herman Cain, who tallied the fifth most overall likes, at 136,904, with 4,036 from Monday.
The No. 5 spot went to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, whose 140,247 total Facebook likes were good for fourth on the list, and who added 2,888 Monday.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty avoided the cellar, placing sixth, with his 100,627 total Facebook likes also good for sixth. He added 2,362 likes Monday.
And finishing seventh and last, according to Likester, was former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), with just 21,067 total likes, also last, and only 679 added Monday.

Tim Pawlenty: Candidate Not As Advertised

Tim Pawlenty attacked Mitt Romney's health care plan characterizing it as calling it "ObamaneyCare" during an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday on  the evening before the CNN Debate. However, when CNN debate moderator John King gave Tim Pawlenty to the opportunity call ObamaneyCare to Mitt Romney's face, he didn't have the guts to do it.

Here's the transcript of T-Paw's refusal to attack Mitt Romney: 
JOHN KING: "You don't want to address why you called Gov. Romney's Obamneycare?"

TIM PAWLENTY: "I just cited President Obama's own words that he looked to Massachusetts as a blueprint."

KING: "Why is it not Obamneycare standing here with the governor right now?"

PAWLENTY: "President Obama is the person I quoted ... Using the term 'Obamneycare' was a reflection of the president's comments."
In the eyes of many Americans, Tim Pawlenty revealed himself to be a weak, gutless and cowardly candidate. He can talk tough and come up with a clever zinger during a television interview but he lacked a spine to actually engage Romney in a debate when given the opportunity to do so. Alex Castellanos, a consultant to the Republican party explained to Politico how bad that response looked for Tim Pawlenty: 
“Debates are competitions – they are alpha dog battles,” explained longtime GOP ad man Alex Castellanos. “To win one, you have to create what I call an ‘MOS,’ a moment of strength. Tim Pawlenty had a chance to get in the ring tonight with the heavyweight champion and create such a moment. He refused to enter the ring. It was like LeBron refusing to take the big shot [Sunday] night.”
That is a mistake that will cost Tim Pawlenty. Its one of the biggest campaign debate flubs of all time. 
Yet, some commentators say that T-Paw's refusal to take on MItt Romney won't hurt him with the voters because many of them either were not watching the debate last night or didn't care to watch since the elections are so far away. However, its a moment that can be brought back and shown to the public later on in the campaign in the form of interviews and campaign commercials. It a mistake that that will haunt T-Paw for the rest of the campaign. 
Not only will that moment not play well with current and future voters, but T-Paw's unwillingness to take on Mitt Romney will have an impact on his campaign donations. There is a strong possibility that many of T-Paw's financial donors are considering taking their money somewhere else
Right now there is a fierce underground battle being waged over high dollar campaign donors. If you can’t raise money now, before the voters care, you will not have the resources you need to communicate with them when they do tune in. Organizing multiple states, waging straw polls, flying around raising money and running loads of TV and radio is all very expensive. Without constant fuel, a campaign locomotive grinds to a halt. For lesser known candidates like Tim Pawlenty this can create a cruel feedback loop; you need money to buy your way up in the polls, yet without good poll numbers it is very hard to raise money. Early debates are important because if you get good media reviews, you can aggressively peddle those to old and new donors to raise money.
Like weary troops or early investors in Broadway musicals, donors to candidates registering at 5% in the polls live on hope. Good early process reviews provide that hope. Donor phones come alive. “We’re staring to move up in… IA/NH/The North Barneyville straw poll!!” Sadly for Pawlenty, he did not get the clips he needed last night. Worse, his donor machine will get bad news instead of good. That’s a terror weapon for Huntsman and Romney. I’ll bet Mitt might be making a few calls to top Pawlenty donors today, thanking them for watching, expressing respect for their deep and touching loyalty to his good friend Tim and letting them he know he’d be happy to be their second choice… just in case things, well, don’t work out. We do need to unify, to beat Obama… Donors take those calls. Nearly every big donor has a plan B. Enthusiasm lags. Less pounding on the donor’s business contacts in Detroit or St. Paul for that extra check. The money wheels slow down and the bank account gets thin, just as the Iowa straw poll ramp-up costs start to mount.
As a result, this is a costly mistake that will have long lasting consequences for T-Paw. It may hurt him now or the pain may come much later in the campaign. As David Frum explains, this is the kind of mistake that cannot be undone now or in the future: 
Pawlenty’s failure is not the kind of stumble he can correct later. It goes to the core of the guy: offered the chance to confront Romney directly, he flinched. He did not look “nice.” He did not look like he was observing the 11th commandment. He looked uncertain and weak. He looked like a man fully aware that Romney would best him in a one-to-one discussion of healthcare policy…
After last night, Pawlenty’s fund-raising will sputter. He’s not exciting enough for ultra-base small donors. He does not look enough like a winner to mobilize big-dollar donors…
If [no one else gets in], I’d guess the future course of the race goes like this:
Bachmann wins Iowa. Romney wins New Hampshire. Absent Perry or Ryan, the field quickly empties out. The establishment rallies to Romney. The party follows just as it did in 1988, 1996 and 2000.
Perhaps the most important and potentially deadly consequence of Pawlenty's refusal to attack Mitt Romney was that it dealt a crushing blow to his image.
The man that Tim Pawlenty portrayed himself didn't match the T-Paw that voters saw at the debate. 
Rather than being the man who tells the hard truth like it is, he exposed himself as a timid, weak, uncertain candidate who is insecure about his own statements. Moreover, it made him look stupid since he couldn't even own up to his own clever zinger and claimed that he was merely recycling Obama's false claim that he used Mitt Romney's health care as a template for ObamaCare. It was a childlike excuse by blaming Obama for coming up with that zinger. 
The new image of Tim Pawlenty as a irresolute, hesitant and weak candidate who couldn't own up to his own words when the time for truth came is the kind of image that will stick in the mind of the American voter. Jason Miller, media consultant and former staffer on Rudy's failed election campaign, explained what probably went on in the voters mind when they saw that they didn't get candidate he advertised himself to be:
“Republican primary voters are looking for a presidential candidate who’s going to take the fight directly to President Obama,” Miller said. “If you’re not comfortable following through on a criticism of one of your primary opponents in person, why should voters think you’ll be able to man up and follow through on a criticism of the president when you face him in the general election?”
Americans desperately want a candidate who stands up for what they believe in and be willing to engage in a debate to promote his believe. He was trying to sell himself as a man who could fill that void that voters yearned for and the voters discovered that he wasn't the man he advertised himself to be. Steve Kornaki makes this same point over at 
But while he's tried hard (painfully hard), Pawlenty has yet to demonstrate that he's capable of filling this void, even though he's had ample opportunity to do so. His feeble performance at Monday night's debate in New Hampshire -- in which he awkwardly dodged a challenge to say to Romney's face what he'd been saying behind his back -- has been widely ridiculed, and rightly so. And while it's fair to note that this was just one debate (and a very early one at that) and that even successful candidates have bad debates, it should also be said that it wasn't anything new. Pawlenty has been leaving one audience after another underwhelmed for a long time now -- even though he tells every audience exactly what it wants to hear.
Tim Pawlenty portrayed himself as bold and strong candidate who can stand up and tell the unvarnished truth. He painted himself as a man who can say the hard things that people need to hear rather than the things that are pleasing to the voter's ear. Yet, that man was not present at the debates last night.
People are starting to see T-Paw in a new light and its an image that is going to hurt T-Paw's campaign image and his personal image as well. Its almost impossible to rebuild that kind of image once its been damaged.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mitt Romney Is The Winner Of CNN's New Hampshire Debate Tonight

Mitt Romney won the debates tonight hands down. Some of my readers might accuse me of being biased since I am enthusiastic supporter of him and have volunteered for his campaign. However, I'm not the only one who came to the conclusion that Romney's was the clear winner of the debate tonight. 
Ron Fournier of the National Journal points out that Mitt Romney was the winner because none of the other 2012 contenders were willing to take Mitt Romney on:   
The mitts were off Mitt. Romney received a pass from a strikingly timid field of rivals in Monday night's debate. Given chances to attack the early front-runner on health care reform, abortion and his history of flip-flopping, the rest of the GOP field pulled its punches. At one point, moderator John King asked if it was time to put the issue of Romney's authenticity to rest. That's like asking a lion whether it's time to stop chasing deer, and yet King's question went unanswered save for one barely audible, "Yes" from one of the candidates. There's a rule of thumb in political debates: When a front-runner leaves the stage unscathed, he's still the front-runner. And, thus, regardless of the sound and fury of the debate itself, he wins.
Michale Barone, writing for the Washington Post, explained why he thought Mitt Romney was the winner of tonight's debate:
Mitt Romney. In an early interchange on Tim Pawlenty’s disparagement of “Obamromneycare” Romney came out far ahead—and established a sense of command (a vital presidential quality) over Pawlenty and the other candidates. Romney came up with a good line—Obama never called me and asked my advice—and said that he would have said that Obamacare wouldn’t work. Pawlenty was on the defensive, saying that he was only responding to a question phrased in a particular way, and missed the chance to nail Romney for backing a mandate to buy health insurance—the feature of Obamacare which is now under attack in court by a majority of state governments. The subject never came up again, which is to Romney’s advantage. In addition, Romney gave good solid answers on several other questions, well tailored to the format demanding brief answers, on various issues. Notable among them was his defense of his opposition to the GM and Chrysler bailout, where he stood up for the rule of law and against turning over ownership shares to the United Auto Workers. On the debt ceiling, he launched a well justified attack on Barack Obama for not leading. I thought he misfired on one not very important issue, saying that eminent domain should not be used for private companies, when the question raised the issue whether it should be used for public utilities, which traditionally have had eminent domain-like powers to build electric transmission lines; but that doesn’t matter much in this context. Overall Romney showed a clear sense of command and directed well-aimed attacks at Barack Obama and his administration. He was well prepared for the format and did better than I thought.
Rich Lowery, writing for the National Review, said that this was Mitt' night and explained that Mitt Romney came out ahead because he stood out from the rest of the crowd:
Romney was on his game — smooth, relaxed, and unflappable. He did well in the debates in 2008, but benefited tonight from his increased stature in the context of the rest of field. In 2008, he was up against John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, strong personalities with real gravity, and Mike Huckabee, a fellow first-time candidate who is a natural performer. He was also helped by the unwillingness of anyone to take him on, most notably Tim Pawlenty on the “Obamneycare” charge. If Pawlenty wasn’t willing to back up that line in person, he shouldn’t have said it on TV Sunday.
Not only was Mitt Romney declared the winner by the media, but seasoned political warriors could agree that Romney was tonight's winner. National Journal talked to both Republican and Democratic insiders to get their professional opinion on who won that night and they all agreed that Mitt was the clear winner of that debate. 
As you can see, I'm not the only one who thought Mitt Romney won tonight. He won by setting himself apart from the rest of the other Republican candidates by giving clear and straightforward answers. Mitt Romney was also helped by the fact that none of the other candidates dared to attack Romney. I think many of the candidates will come to regret that choice, especially Tim Pawlenty who was given a few opportunities to attack Mitt but couldn't do it. That will haunt him for the rest of the campaign. 
However, it wasn't like Mitt Romney was given softball answers. There were plenty of questions ranging from gay marriage, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Afghanistan and Iraq, illegal immigration that were definite minefields for each of these candidates. Mitt Romney navigated through them with very little difficulty. 
I would have to agree that Michelle Bachmann was the second place winner tonight. She started out by announcing her candidacy during the beginning of the show and managed to pass by the other candidates both in substance and style. I was really impressed with her and I think she will be the candidate Mitt Romney may have to worry about in the future. 
The biggest loser tonight was Tim Pawlenty. The fact that he came out swinging against Romney by attacking him on his health care program on a television program prior to the debates and refusing the opportunity to double down on his statement makes him look weak, gutless and cowardly. It was supposed to be a defining moment for him and people will no doubt look at him in a negative light. Aside from his refusal to attack Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty's overall performance both in substance and style was a major let down. He didn't rock the house like people hoped he would.
The other biggest loser was Newt Gingrich. He didn't look like he was having fun there. He had a scowl on his face the whole time. That doesn't win any points for him on style. As for substance, he didn't shine through despite his reputation as eloquent and intelligent speaker and debater. He lost a lot of points on substance too. 
I don't have any thing to say about Ron Paul. He was no different. He may have wowed his libertarian base but nobody else cared for what he said. 
I don't have much to say about Herman Cain or Rick Santorum either. Both performed better than Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul but lost to Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachmann. As a result, neither one doesn't come out as a loser or a winner in tonights debate. 
I'm a bit disappointed that Gary Johnson and Jon Hunstsman were not at tonight's debate. I think they would have helped spice up the night and made the debates more livelier. Moreover, it would have helped to give America a chance to see who these men are. Perhaps that's why supporters of Gary Johnson are quite pissed about the fact that he was not invited to tonight's debat because he couldn't get above the 2% average in CNN's poll. There were no expressions of unhappiness from Huntsman supporters (if there are any) outside the debate. 
What do you think about tonight's debate? Who do you think the winners and losers of the debate were?

Mitt Romney's New Ad: We're Not A Bump In The Road

Mitt Romney's new advertisement reveals just how out of touch Obama is when it comes to the issue of the economy. It is a powerful reminder Obama's policies and his careless remarks about his own lack of performance on the economic that generates the bad economic news has a real impact on the lives of everyday Americans. 
President Obama's statement is appalling for another reason. 
First, let us review how well the economy is doing right now. No matter what section of the economy you look at, it isn't doing well. The housing market is barely breathing since home prices in the United States have sunk to their lowest levels since 2002, falling 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2011 and that further drops in home prices are expected in the future. There has been a steep slowdown in the manufacturing sector despite the fact that we are experiencing record highs in exports.
Most importantly, jobs aren't growing or declining but are simply stalling with only 38,000 Americans added to the workforce in May, the smallest increase since September. Unemployment currently stands at 9.1%. To look at things from a different perspective, just 19% of working Americans now report that their firms are hiring while 23% say their firms are laying workers off. Lets not forget that Obama's environmental policies will cause electricity prices to go higher and possibly cause the collapse of the coal industry which will lead more people out of jobs.
Since Obama has taken office as President, we have been doing $1 trillion dollar in deficit for the third straight year. We have a national debt of $14 trillion. As a result, Moody has threatened to cut our credit rating which is causing investors to be  worried about a future correction in the stock markets as a result of Obama bad economic policies. According to Senator Paul Ryan, if things stay the same as they are now, America won't survive past 2037.
As a result, Americans are increasingly growing pessimistic about the economy. 48% of Americans say that another Great Depression is likely to occur in the next year. 49% of Americans think that they will be paying higher interests rates next year. 79% of American adults are at least somewhat concerned about inflation while there are 52% of American adults who consider themselves as very concerned about inflation. Consider the latest Consumer Index Report that reports that an extremely high percentage of Americans think the economy is doing poorly: 
11% of consumers rate the U.S. economy as good or excellent, while 55% rate the economy as poor. Twenty-five percent (25%) say economic conditions are getting better, while 53% say they are getting worse.
As a result, 64% of voters say the country is heading down the wrong track while only 28% think America is heading in the right direction. Thus, its no surprise that unemployment was the number one concern with the economy following as the number two concern for Americans and it continues to be the primary concern today: 
Not surprisingly, with that much economic angst, the economy is the number one issue, the only one that more than half of the public says will be extremely important to their vote for president next year. Nearly all issues that at least four in ten say will be extremely important to their vote are domestic issues. Terrorism also makes that list, but Afghanistan is fairly low and Libya is tied for dead last out of the 15 issues tested. Abortion and gay marriage also rank very low, indicating that 2012 may be an election that is shaped more by bread-and-butter issues than social and moral concerns.
With Obama's liberal/progressive policies of promoting more federal government regulation and intervention, its no surprise that Americans don't want another four years of Obama in office. This is reflected in the fact that 47% of likely voters are worried more that the federal government will do too much rather than not enough in reacting to the nation's economic problems.
It is no wonder that Americans cannot take Obama seriously as an economic leader. Barak Obama has zero credibility when it comes to his promises of reducing unemployment and fixing the economy. Even his own actions demonstrate that this man isn't serious about the economy. Look this chart which takes a look at a wide range of economic indicators to show how disastrous Obama's has been for American economy in the first 25 months of his term. That is why even Obama's closest allies are starting to be upset with the fact that Obama hasn't done enough to create jobs in America.
Obama is scrambling to bring down unemployment so that he can keep his job as President. Currently, he's in North Carolina as part of a listening tour to promote his economic polices while at the same time find ways to bring down unemployment. But it is too late Obama to reverse his own horrible policies in order to fix the economy. 
Which brings me back to why President Obama's statement about the long line of bad economic news is merely a bump in the road is so appalling. What Obama is trying to do is make a mountain of bad economic news into a a molehill of bad economic news. By downplaying the seriousness of our financial situation, its not just the fact that Obama is ignoring or trivializing the impact his policies have had on the American people but its also a gargantuan distortion of how bad things are in America economically. 
As a result, its evidence that Americans and Obama have different perspectives about the current state of the economy. Obama has a distorted view of the economy whereas Americans have a correct view of it. J.D. Foster, a columnist writing for the National Review, drives this point home eloquently:
An economy is more than bricks and mortar, goods and services, labor and capital. It is also people acting in their own best interests guided by their expectations of what could be. Hope, confidence, expectations, whatever the label — it is a key factor often left out of the economics textbooks. But hope builds a bridge of positive actions from a weak recovery to a strong recovery. In purely economic terms, confidence arbitrages belief in a strong economy in the future and pulls some of that strength into the present, helping to make prosperity a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Presented with abundant evidence, the American people have rightly judged Obama economic policies failures, and they recognize he intends to continue those policies. Thus, they expect the economy to continue to muddle along, at best. Those are likely to be self-fulfilling expectations unless and until there is real change in Washington.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our Unhealthy Obsession With Flip Flopping

With the first real 2012 Presidential debate underway tomorrow, you will hear plenty of candidates accusing each other of flip flopping on various issues since many of the current 2012 candidates have flipped flopped in one way or another. 
For example, Tim Pawlenty has flip flopped on cap and trade, climate change, federally subsidized ethanol, Cuba, state’s rights, bailouts, endorsing universal health care coverage before he was against it, cap and trade, ObamaCare, and supporting the individual mandate before he opposed it. 
If Sarah Palin jumps in for 2012, you will hear people accusing her of flip flopping on climate change, cap and trade, unions, TARP, death panels, and gay rights.
Before we talk any further about flip flopping, lets get our definitions straight. A blogger wisely pointed out that "a flip is changing your position. A flip-flop is changing your position, and changing it back." As a result, when most people talk about flip flopping, they actually mean that a person was flipping on an position. 
But before you jump on me on whether or not these candidates actually flipped or flopped or how accurate these charges are, I want you to ponder and think about our unhealthy obsession with candidates who flip or flop on an issue. 
Stick with me for a minute as I explain why I think our country as an unnatural fixation on this subject.
"Flip flopping" is a label that people love to throw on politicians and it can do plenty of damage to a political campaign. Its been used so often that the term that flip flopping can mean anything. As a result, the label has has lost its meaning but none of its potency. Although the term is still potent, its only dangerous to politicians because people have inflated its value on a charge that is used so often and so cheaply.
There is danger is using a term too much. The problem goes beyond letting the word lose its precise meaning or its value. There is something much more deeply troubling. We're loosing our ability to think and only respond to words that so easily trigger our emotions rather than the neurons in our brain. We're letting the media, campaign mangers and political junkies do the thinking for us and allowing ourselves to conditioned by these very same people to respond negatively to a claim of flip flopping with out seriously considering the veracity or seriousness of the charge.
One of the dangerous side effects of our unhealthy obsession with nitpicking over the flips or flops of our elected officials is that makes our candidates rigid and unbending rather than being flexible and adapting to new facts and evidence. Kathleen Parker makes this point in her op-ed over at the Washington Post: 
Here we go all over again. Read my lips and bring ’em on. It’s the economy, stupid. Gotcha!
Which is to say, the stupid season is upon us. Same story, same characters, same plot twists. And yes, the same insanity. Plus ca change and all that.
To the familiar litany of cliches above, one hastens to add, “I was for it before I was against it,” the sine qua non of that quintessential political bugaboo — flip-floppery.
A politician may be able to survive cavorting with prostitutes, sexting with coeds and commingling with interns, but heaven forbid he should change his mind — the transgression that trumps all compassion.
Or thinking.
After all, thinking can lead to that most dangerous territory for a politician — doubt — and, inevitably, the implication that dare not be expressed: “I could be wrong.”
Eve Fairbanks, writing an article for Campaigns and Elections magazine, titled "In Defense of Flip Flopping" makes the same point in a different way: 
When political campaigns are so saturated with the flip-flopper attack, and when every flip-flop—big or small—is made out to be a Bad Thing, it makes candidates fear ever changing their minds.
Sure, candidates tack with the political winds, but there's no surprise in that. More important, politicians, like all people, sometimes change their minds when circumstances change or they gain more knowledge or just come into the wisdom of older age. Even the strongest backbones can bend.
Eve Fairbanks goes on to point out that there is a danger in clubbing every politician over the head for thier flip flops because it conditions society to think that all flips are equally bad and turns politicians into bad decisions makers:
Not all flip-flops are made equal, and not all flip-flops show the flip-flopper up as crooked. Some are panders; others are revelations. Some are big; some are small. We can usually tell the difference. But when the flip-flop attack becomes so common, we're led to think all flip-flops are the same. It oversimplifies the choices politicians have to make, and turns campaign season into a joke. 
Ms. Fairbanks goes also points out that there another harm of being so obsessed with every "flip flop" a politician makes is that its corrupting the political process by which we use to select our local, state and national leaders:
These accusations weren't all without merit. And there's reason to worry about flip-flopping candidates; after all, we want leaders with backbone who won't collapse under a little political pressure.
But when something works so well, we start wanting to try it all the time. And Kerry turned it into a dangerous example. Four years after seeing the way that attack destroyed the senator's presidential bid, we've begun to throw  the flip-flopper charge around so recklessly and arbitrarily that it's almost lost all meaning. 
Kathleen Parker addresses this same idea but points out another harm that comes with being upset with every "flip flop" a politician makes in that the voters themselves become unbending and inflexible in their views of politicians and the positions they take:
Those most averse to engaging in the sort of thought that could lead to self-doubt are, alas, those who constitute the political party base. These sometimes-wrong-never-in-doubt constituents are relentless in demanding ideological purity from their candidates and routinely banish those who don’t measure up. Thinking men and women need not apply.
These same folks also happen to constitute a minority of Americans, yet they control the debate. The rest of us are left to pick among the ideologically approved scraps. 
In short, combing every statement a politician makes for flip or flop doesn't help the vetting process of finding the best local and state leader because we have a knee jerk reaction to thinking that all flip flops are bad. It doesn't matter if a candidate has a genuine and change of honest change in opinion based on new facts or evidence or if its just a calculated move to win more votes, they're all the same to us now. 
We are becoming more rigid and unbending to ourselves and others who change their minds because we're holding everyone to an impossible and unrealistic standard in which no one can change their minds, especially politicians. Lets not forget that your boss recently flipped on which color the new product should be or that your son's teacher said that the homework assignment was due on Tuesday when she said it was due on Friday a week ago. 
Politicians get hammered for flip flopping on issues. They also get hammered on issues they actually take a firm and consistent position on. They'll get hounded if they even think about flipping. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
The biggest problem is that we're slowly losing our ability to think and evaluate what's actually being said. Politicians, reporters, campaign managers and bloggers all know how to push the voters buttons and get the reaction they want from you. They all know that the public relies on them for information. In many cases, they know that the public lets the politicians, reporters, campaign managers and bloggers do the thinking for them. 
But it doesn't have to be this way. You can defy these people by being a smart, intelligent, informed and open minded voter. 
You should be thinking these questions to yourself as you hear one candidate accusing the other candidate of flip flopping: Is this a real flip or a real honest and sincere change of opinion? If its a change of opinon, why did they change their opinion? 
If its a flip flop, is it a major one or a minor one? Is is a significant or insignificant flip? How serious is this flip or flop? How accurate is the flip? Is the accuser actually distorting or twisting the candidate's words so that it looks like he's flipping on an issue?
As you watch the Republican debates tomorrow and pay attention to the rest of the 2012 election, don't accept every accusation of flip flopping at face value because they never are. 
If you take your job as a voter seriously, then we as a nation, can end our unhealthy obsession with flip flopping.and reducing the corrosive effect our fixation has on each other, politicians and the political process.