Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pre-Primary Election Anxiety Disorder

Watching Fox News, I heard an authoritative anchor-type fellow announce that, with the Iowa carcasses a mere two weeks out, we were entering the homestretch of the presidential sweepstakes. Now I'm all full of anxiety because I don't know who to vote for. Damn. What's the rush? When I was...younger than I am now, the conventions still meant something. You actually sat on the edge of your seat watching the state delegations cast so many votes for this guy and so many for the other. Spontaneous demonstrations erupted on the convention floor. There may have been primaries, but I don't remember anything about them. Now I'm led to believe that by the end of January we could know who the two candidates will be. That'll make for one hell of a long, mostly unendurable, spitting match of a campaign. They need to move November so that it comes after January.

So, who to vote for? (I'm talking Republicans. Democrats are excluded by (party-of-death) definition.)

Ron Paul? Picture him trying to stare down Vladimir Putin across a table. Better yet, Ahmadinejad. Oh, that's not sufficient reason? Then try this little experiment. Put up a one-sentence blog post, something along these lines: "Don't vote for Ron Paul because his blowback theory renders him a foreign policy idiot." Go into more detail if you feel competent. Make sure you give the post a catchy title, like "Don't Fall for Ron Paul." Then watch what happens. I can't guarantee anything will happen, but there's a fair to middlin' chance that some of his support-bot cyber hornet trolls will leave the hive to hunt you down, which makes me think that Paul is not a serious candidate but a cult leader.

Fred Thompson? I liked him better on Law and Order. At least they made him stay awake on set. He's old with a much younger wife. I don't care. She's pregnant with his child. Or has she already given birth? You see why this is so hard? I'm having to catch up all at once. A positive is that he's tall. A negative is that he's semi-prolife. That is, he's against abortion, and wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, but he's okay if the states want to allow it, which he doesn't want to do with born-people abortions, so I guess he doesn't think the preborn variety murder. Same with gay marriage. He's also in favor of torture, I mean water-boarding, if the stakes are high enough. I don't know how high the stakes have to be. They never tell you that stuff.

Duncan Hunter? I like him a lot. He doesn't have a chance.

Tom Tancredo? Good on a lot of things, bad on torture, I mean waterboarding. Fan of TV show 24. He's also short. Sitting at a table with the likewise short Vladimir Putin, he'd be looking up.

Rudy Giuliani? Elaboration not necessary, but for the sake of completeness: he "hates" abortion but thinks the woman should have the choice. Hate is a strong word; perhaps he meant that he finds it vaguely unpleasant. He thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman, but doesn't support the federal marriage amendment insuring that it remain so. "As mayor, he signed legislation recognizing domestic partnerships, marched in gay pride parades, actively supported gay rights..." You get the picture. He's also a Roman Catholic who believes in serial marriage. Weak on tor...enhanced interrogation techniques.

John McCain? Has the gravitas on the torture issue. Problem is, nobody (as in the vast majority of conservatives) agrees with him. He could stare down Vladimir Putin. He's against abortion. Except. In the cases of. Rape, incest, life of the mother. Opposes embryonic stem cell research. Except. In the case of. Left over embryos from fertility treatments. But he's against waterboarding. I mean torture.

Alan Keyes? I like him a lot. He doesn't have a chance. I saw a fragment of the last debate in which he appeared. Then again on Fox News. He never once said, "Uh...". Or, "...and, uh...," or hesitated in search of the most judicious answer. The most skilled rhetorician in recent American history. If I had to vote for someone who didn't stand a chance, he'd be it. Problem is, there's nothing hip about the guy. He's exactly what you see and believes every word of it. If Bill Cosby wants to point black folks to a role model, why doesn't he point to Keyes? Keyes is the invisible man, too white for black people and too black for whites. A tragedy. Is anyone other than Keyes talking about abolishing the IRS, by the way? I consider it a moral issue.

Mike Huckabee? I've had about all of that hangdog, homespun sincerity I can stand. He's against abortion but thinks pro-lifers ought to pay as much attention to the post-gestational period as they do to the pre. He's equivocal on most every issue. He supports the death penalty but says it's a "tough issue". "...some crimes deserve it, but that does not mean I like it." Well, why do you support it then? Were you signing death warrants that made you an accomplice to murder? The Pew Forum link does not say whether he supports the federal marriage amendment. He opposes gay marriage, but "When asked if he believes that homosexuality is immoral, he said, 'That's their business [but I] don't agree with it.'" (Yeah, so whaddya wanna do about it?) He supports research "on existing stem cell lines," but is against creating embryos in order to destroy them, even though those existing stem cell lines probably came from destroyed embryos. Anyway, TSO had already turned me off to him by steering me to a Jonah Goldberg article in which it is the author's opinion that "Huckabee represents compassionate conservatism on steroids." He mentions a couple issues, but this is the one that got me: "For example, Huckabee would support a nationwide ban on public smoking. Why? Because he’s on a health kick, thinks smoking is bad and believes the government should do the right thing." Ah, a pro-life version of Michael Bloomberg or Al Gore. I don't think I've stated publicly before just how much I despise the cheap grace, the re-baptized bodily purity, and the holier-than-thou self-esteem assumed by nonsmokers and those of the reformed variety. Can't you just say it's bad and shutup? I'll bet you have thoughts in your head viler than my nicotine-stained lungs. It's already illegal in large parts of the country, as in all of the state of Florida, to set the smoking policy for your own establishment. You own a restaurant? Not really. Just try letting people smoke in it. But it's a public health hazard. Then the public doesn't have to come, does it? If you don't want me to smoke in your home, I won't, but neither am I likely to visit. As a child with chronic bronchitis, asthma and hayfever, I grew up with parents who smoked. I played football, basketball, baseball and the female field and I'm still alive and so are they. What's President Huckabee going to do? Come into my home and arrest my parents? If you think it's so bad, outlaw it. Make it a schedule 3 drug or whatever they call it and put us in jail, but stop raising taxes so that the vice-averse government can make money off the wickedness it deplores. What's next? My beer? I always knew I'd find a use for Pat Buchanan: lock and load.

Mitt Romney? Huckabee had to apologize to him for telling the truth about his religion, another reason not to vote for Huck. He apparently asked some media person, in a casual fashion, if Mormonism didn't hold that Jesus and Satan were brothers of some sort. On Tim Russert, Romney assured us that this was another of those distortions of his faith. Well, this page says different, and in depth, written by a fellow conversant in the theology.

The only reason Huckabee apologized is that he embraces the prevailing, Pilate-like philosophy of truth: what is it? It's personal, it's private, and therefore it doesn't matter. It's bad form to attack another's beliefs because, being personal, it doesn't matter how wacky they are as long as he leaves them at the door.

But are they important? Anyone who cares about the truth would have to say yes. I think it's important that a man who calls himself Christian does not believe in the Holy Trinity;
- that God the Father was once a mortal man (he had to earn his current position);
- that he has a consort, our heavenly mother, as a member of the godhead;
- that God has a physical body, and exists in space and time;
- that Christ was not conceived of the Holy Ghost;

It goes on and on and I'm tired of linking. If you do enough reading, you'll find that the origins of only those doctrines mentioned result in an even more bizarre mythology, which word seems more accurate than 'theology' to describe being caught in a neverland of Christianity, classical paganism, the Chariots of the Gods, and the philosopher's infinite regress.

But is it important? Those who have endorsed Romney, like Michael Novak, emphasize the visible fruits of mainstream Mormonism , which center on family, hard work, obedience to the law, the sanctity of human life, the permanence of marriage (and boy do they; that's another 'theological' story) etc. The fruits are undeniable, although Romney was not an exemplar of all, having been for a while firmly pro-choice. But even that doesn't bother me. I believe in conversions, however timely. I'd just prefer that the conversion were complete. He is, he says, in favor of a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion, and that he's opposed to embryonic stem cell research. BUT...he's in favor of allowing such research on "leftover" embryos.

There's always a catch, isn't there?

I don't know. Vote for a Mormon if you want. If you trust him. You can vote for anybody if you can trust him to do the right thing. But on what basis should I trust any of these guys, that I might part with the despair I foresee once the choices for next November become clear?

The Chicago daughter's coming to town tomorrow. I think I'll focus on that.


dylan said...

I'm leaning Paul, who also wants to abolish the IRS ...

I'm also thinking of switching parties to vote against Hillary in the primary. Her most feasible opponent is Barack Obama, who has, to put it mildly, problems (pro-abort, pro-affirmative-action, belongs to a church with a black racist pastor ...). My favorite Demmie is probably Bill Richardson, who, alas!, is busy kissing up to HRC in hopes of being veep.

I'm basically in the ABC camp (anyone but Clinton). But these Republicans are not a promising lot, as you have ably detailed here.

Jeff Miller said...

I have never been undecided this close to a primary. With the internet I have too much information on each candidate.

Though as you said Duncan Hunter and of course Alan Keyes have zero chance, but much better reflect my own views.

Rudy - Hell no.

McCain - Keeps busy screwing he base so that he can keep being called a maverick.

Paul - Doctrinaire libertarians always end up supporting nutty things like his recent refusal to return $500 dollars to the racist organization Stormfront. There is a lot to like about him, especially his pro-life convictions, but he is quite willing to side with conspiracy theories and accept support from nutters.

Thompson - Has some good conservative philosophical underpinning, but is certainly no ardent pro-lifer and just how can anyone not have an opinion on Terri Schiavo like he claimed.

Huckabee - Good pro-lifer, now has torture right, but is a buffoon on foreign policy that takes him to the Jimmy Carter Camp. Many of his views are less than conservative though. Plus I think some of his explanations towards pardon's and the Romney attack have been not quite truthful. He seems to lie with ease - though maybe that is a definition of a politician.

Romney - I don't remember cheering him when he was Gov. His Romneycare which included support for abortion and his not stepping in when the legislature forced Catholic hospitals to dispense Plan B Make you wonder how deep his pro-life conversion actually is. He was quite willing to compromise in a predominate Democratic state and I will think he will do the same as President.

So who the heck does that leave? Oh well. Thinking about the lesser evil is not an enjoyable way to vote.

TS said...

On the smoking issue, I live in a community where Taco Bell is considered high cusine. (I exaggerate only slightly.) Fortunately there was one great restaurant in town where we could go for special occasions. Unbelievably good food, no matter what you ordered.

Then the smoking ban came. And no one could smoke those $10 cigars in the cigar bar, and no one would come and drink the import beers because they couldn't smoke cigarettes and...well...about six months later the great restaurant closed. Oh joy. One for the unintended consequences file.

By the way, if you're not Mormon'd out yet, there's an interesting Karen Hall post here. She tried to apply for the "Marie Osmond" exemption when she was a Mormon, but without success.

William Luse said...

Dylan, I'm glad Paul wants to get rid of the IRS. Please don't vote for him.

Jeff - should have gotten you to help me write the post. I meant to bring up the Huckabee/Carter parallel but forgot.

TSO - been meaning to read that K. Hall post, but right now I have to go trim a hedge. I'll get to it. Should be entertaining.

dylan said...


I've found my candidate! Cynthia McKinney is running for President as a member of the Green Party! Run, Cynthia, run!

Joking aside: One of the most devout Catholic laymen I know, a man in his early 80s and one of the most conservative-seeming entities on the face of the earth, is a Dennis Kucinich supporter. This good man (my friend, not Kucinich) taught me Latin in high school and could probably best be described as a pro-life (pacifist?) socialist. He feels the Republicans merely "play with" the abortion issue. I don't see how he gets that. GWB, for all his flaws, gave us two pretty solid appointments to SCOTUS on that score.

If I shouldn't vote for Paul, then for whom should I vote?

William Luse said...

Your devout Catholic friend is a mystery to me, though I've known people like him. I just assume there's something beneath the surface known only to him. If he thinks the Repubs are just making the right noises to cover a lack of conviction, I wonder how he describes the Democratic approach.

You're right (probably) about those GWB appointments. Time will tell.

then for whom should I vote?

You're asking the guy who wrote the post? Oh, all right. If worst comes to worst, better Paul than Clinton or Obama. If worst comes to worser yet, say Clinton vs. Giuliani, I'll be staying home. If I do vote, I'll probably enter the booth muttering the mantra, "It is not evil to vote for the lesser of two evils," in an effort to convince myself.

Lydia McGrew said...

And Alan Keyes supports reparations for slavery for blacks in the form of tax wealth-transfers. Really. That was his thing last time he ran for President--publicity stunt. Was that four years ago? Made me rethink how conservative the guy was. Tied himself in knots trying to say how this made legal and moral sense. Didn't convince me, that's for sure.

Tancredo has dropped out. I forget where I read it. Just happened today, I think.

Bill says, "If I do vote, I'll probably enter the booth muttering the mantra, "It is not evil to vote for the lesser of two evils," in an effort to convince myself." If you mean for Giuliani in the general, I say, stick with what you said in the previous sentence: Stay home. Or vote Constitution or something hopeless like that.

dylan said...

Tancredo has indeed dropped out, and endorsed Romney.

Anonymous said...

"lex suffragium, lex credendi"

Or something like that.

But hey, you already know my opinion.

William Luse said...

I didn't know that about Keyes. Another off the list.

If you mean for Giuliani in the general You know good and well that's not what I mean. That would be voting for one of two manifest evils, not the lesser of them.

Zip, I'd know your opinion better if I could read Latin. I wish you'd put it up at W4 so I could watch your fellow conservatives jump all over your ass for being too pure. I'll come to your defense, I promise.

William Luse said...

I forgot to thank you for the link, Dylan.

dylan said...

No problem. You're welcome.

Lydia McGrew said...

Y'know, it's funny: I _ought_ to feel that all this competition among Republicans is healthy, that it provides a chance for someone from outside the "Republican establishment" or something like that. But it just makes me feel tired. I don't know if that means I'm getting old, or getting cynical, or if it just means that the candidates are a poor lot.

I wouldn't vote for Giuliani at gunpoint. At gunpoint, I might vote for "compassionate" Huckabee or maaaaybe, Romney. But "gunpoint" certainly won't come up before the general election, and I still think we're going to see a Giuliani nomination.

William Luse said...

It means you're getting old, tired and cynical, and that the candidates are a poor lot.

At gunpoint, I might vote for "compassionate" Huckabee or maaaaybe, Romney

I hope Zippy sees that.

I still think we're going to see a Giuliani nomination.

And I hope you're no prophet.

Lydia McGrew said...

Uh-oh, am I in trouble? The "maybe" on Romney is leaning "against," because of his position on research on "leftover" embryos. I mean, that he admits. For the rest of the pro-life stuff, it's a matter of his honesty and trustworthiness. I suspect in my heart that the guy is a Northeastern liberal Republican, has been and will be. I gather the people around him in his governorship have, I've read, not been conservative--e.g., pro-gay rights, etc. But he _claims_ to have had a conversion experience on the pro-life issue, so what is one to think? That he's an opportunist and a liar? Not impossible, by any means. But the business about leftover embryo research is an admitted position, very recently stated, so that should probably be a deal-breaker, the more I think about it. He's no Giuliani, though. Huckabee probably doesn't know what he's doing and apparently is a real liberal on all kinds of stuff that wd. make me seethe (like environmentalism, immigration, welfare), but I guess no one is questioning that he's pro-life. To me one of the very strongest things said against Huckabee was by Phyllis Schlafly. I gather she has said something to the effect that he's been very bad for conservatives in Arkansas, that he isn't what he seems, and stuff like that. That counts for a lot with me.

So it's a sorry lookout all around. But I suppose one has to draw lines between deal-breaker issues and non-deal-breaker issues. Or maybe one doesn't. If I'm a prophet, the general election will be a no-brainer for conservatives, or should be.

William Luse said...

Uh-oh, am I in trouble?

He's a bit of a rigorist on this issue, but probably likes you too much to say anything. He had a long thread on it over at his place, during which I resisted his purity, but I don't feel like hunting down the link. On election day he's most likely to be found praying before the Blessed Sacrament, which may be worth more than a vote for all I know.

In a recent interview in NR, with Byron York, Romney got the connection between being anti-abortion and anti-embryonic stem cell research. (It was Mr. York who seemed to have trouble making the connection.) But then we take it one step further, to leftover embryos, and suddenly the connection breaks down; as though, because they're left over in a frozen limbo, you're not killing them if you use them. I think his conversion is real, but incomplete. People have trouble "going all the way." Sort of like anti-abortionists who make exceptions for rape, incest, etc. You know, like George Bush.