the case for

Questions for Candidates

It’s beginning to look a lot like election season. Exploratory papers are being filed. Funds are being raised. Campaign buses are rolling through early primary states. Debates are being had.

I hate how early presidential campaigns get kicked off nowadays. In a culture where information travels so fast, I would think we need less time for campaigning, not more. But, sadly, that’s not the way it works.

I doubt I’ll be voting for President Obama. I didn’t in 2008, and he hasn’t really done anything to convince me to change my mind. I have a great deal of respect for the President, but I simply have too many policy differences with him to be able to support his reelection.

So, I’ve begun to pay attention to the crop of Republican hopefuls. About the only Republican out there who excites me is Gov. Chris Christie of NJ, but he has said repeatedly that he is not running in 2012. Without him or former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (yet?) in the race, I feel like I am very far from picking a candidate. I guess it’s a good thing that votes won’t start being cast for a year.

I did catch most of the Republican presidential debate that CNN hosted this week. And it left me with some questions. Here are my questions about the candidates, announced and yet-to-be announced, that will need to get answered before I can vote for one of these men or women:

Michele Bachmann
Congresswoman Bachmann strikes me as obviously intelligent and accomplished. She’ll get a bad rap from Democrats and the media for her Tea Party association, but isn’t she just the front-runner in the Veepstakes?

Herman Cain
Mr. Cain is interesting to listen to and has a great story, but I generally don’t think of him as any more electable than Papa John. How long will it be before the Alan Keyes comparisons begin?

Newt Gingrich
In 1989, I had a signed picture of Newt hanging on my wall. Keep your Alex P. Keaton jokes to yourselves. Newt was fresh and cool then. He is no longer fresh and cool. Can the Speaker come back from having a stepford wife, no advisors, and a man dump glitter on his head?

Rudy Giuliani
America’s Mayor totally blew his opportunity in 2008. He had a short-sighted Florida-only strategy and a myopic 9/11 message. If he jumps in again, can he demonstrate that he learned his lesson and be a viable, national candidate?

Jon Huntsman Jr.
I follow politics pretty closely. I’ve been known to recognize obscure legislators in shopping mall parking lots and airports. I know he was Utah’s governor and President Obama’s ambassador to China, but still, I’m asking, “Who?”

Sarah Palin
Palin has a way of connecting with people that the media can’t figure out and doesn’t respect, and so I’m skeptical of how she’s portrayed and often quite sympathetic toward her. Yet, I’m tired of her. Fatigue doesn’t usually set in until a President’s second term. How can she overcome Palin Fatigue when she hasn’t even been elected yet?

Ron Paul
Congressman Paul strikes me as the smartest person in the race. He’s principled and charismatic in an old man kind of way. But why can’t he attract more than 10% of primary voters?

Tim Pawlenty
I don’t know much about Governor Pawlenty, but I’d be willing to bet he’s the most effective and pragmatic leader of the bunch. Tell me, Governor, why shouldn’t I think of you as just another boring white guy in a blue suit?

Rick Perry
A Governor of Texas with a track record of reaching across the aisle and getting stuff done. What could go wrong there?

Mitt Romney
There are many of us who want Mitt Romney to be the second coming of Ronald Reagan, and we can’t figure out what he’s missing. What is he missing?

Rick Santorum
Senator Santorum appeals to the social conservatives, the Religious Right. I’m not part of the Religious Right, so why should I pay any attention to him?

There is plenty of time to get these questions answered. But the sooner I learn what I’m seeking about the candidates, the sooner I’ll be ready to throw my support behind one of them.

By the way, I didn’t make up that Newt-glitter thing:



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The Grenz Is Now Four!

I started this little experiment four years ago, the day after GWB defeated John Kerry. It all started with my provocative suggestion that the turning point of the 2004 election was the hospitalization of Chief Justice William Rehnquist (click it old school).

I don’t have any particularly original commentary on this election. Two factors seem important to me.

First, I think Rush Limbaugh made a profound observation on his show today when he said that unqualified conservatism has not been on the ballot since 1994 and Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America. This election was not a defeat of conservatism but rather a defeat of Republicanism. There is a difference!

Second, I saw a chart a few weeks ago and found it fascinating. John McCain was “in” a race he had no business being in, given the mood of the country and the unpopularity of GWB. His poll numbers were rising. Then, the stock market tanked. And so did his poll numbers. Charted out, the lines are completely parallel. I’ll see if I can hunt up the graph and post it here.

I’ve got more thoughts about the election, but it’s supper time.

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McCain – Palin ’08

I am going to vote for John McCain. I don’t really want to, but I am going to.

I am a small government, low taxes conservative in the Goldwater-Buckley-Reagan tradition. I’m not confident that John McCain has the same conservative sensibilities of these greats, but I am certain that he will be much closer to the kind of president I would hope for than Senator Obama.

I like Senator Obama. I like him a lot. I wish him well and will not be personally critical of him or his supporters. There is much in him to respect in him. He is optimistic for America. He is a family man. Yet, he seems oriented toward always providing government solutions to problems. And while I am tired of the “socialist” label game, his economic policies are far more left than I will ever be comfortable with. I understand that he wants to help the most people possible. I just think there is a more effective way to do it.

It seems to me that John McCain, more than Barack Obama, will be govern with a basic philosophy and the political instincts that entrust the average American with the opportunity to succeed. In recent weeks, Senator McCain has been saying that he will try to create wealth by creating opportunity for each and every American. That resonates with me. That reminds me of something President Reagan would say.

So, on Tuesday, I’m doing something I honestly wasn’t sure I would do several months ago. I am going to touch the screen for Senator John McCain. And then I’ll be watching to see what the future holds.

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