Archive for November, 2008

What conservatives must do now

November 6, 2008

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/11/05/atlanta.reacts.obama.win/index.html

The article above is one that I’m trying to use as a silver lining of sorts. It’s a CNN story visiting with several African Americans in and around Atlanta. They’re talking about the inspiration they feel from Obama’s election, and one man in his twenties makes the particularly good point that for a lot of black kids this will be the first role model they’ve had who doesn’t sing, dance or play sports.

The fact is there are large parts of our society which have felt even more “out in the wilderness” than the GOP does right now. If Obama’s election helps put to rest the notion that America is a racist country, then there’s something very useful there.  If it provides inspiration to little black kids who previously could only aspire to sports fame, then it’s even more valuable. Mobilizing the brains of millions of kids who’ve been educationally left behind is just as powerful a boost to our country’s capability as was the movement for women’s suffrage and allowing women into the workforce. We simply can’t compete in the world with 10, 20, 40, 60 percent of our citizens on the sidelines.

The flip side, of course, is that electing pro-welfare Democrats is a sure way to ensure that the poor stay dependent on government. In that sense, Obama’s presidency, if it moves people toward dependence on government, is long on symbolism and short on actual help for poor folks.

What the GOP needs to do — desperately needs to do — is to lay out a clear, understandable case for this newly-politically-active class of citizens, and for all Americans.  Now that they know they can do anything, that the country is truly full of possibilities for them, we must make the case to them that the clearest path to achieving those dreams is by reducing the barriers that stand in the way of innovation and economic mobility. That the best way to achieve prosperity for themselves and their famlies is by increasing the freedoms they enjoy, not building up barriers which make America less competitive. And we must demonstrate that the party which does that is the conservative party, the Republican party. And lest we forget, the party of Lincoln.

It’s a task made tougher by the mantras that we’ll hear from the left and the media over the coming years about how the government is there to take care of you, protect you from the big bad evil businesses out there, and care for you from cradle to grave.  But until we can present a cohesive explanation of why the collective wisdom of individual Americans is not better and smarter than government bureaucrats telling us how to live our lives, then we won’t capture the hearts and minds of the voters.

Ironically, bipartisanship will now depend on Obama . . .

November 5, 2008

Well, the election is finally over and Barack Obama is getting ready for the first job where he’ll actually manage someone, or run an operation. The first business I ran was selling ads on a desk calendar that I distributed to Freshman at my college. That might have been a better place to start for Obama, but things worked out differently and next year he’ll have 1,800,000 employees and oversee a budget of about $2,700,000,000.  Well, you’ve gotta start somewhere!

I received an email from a friend who I’d congratulated on the election, and she expressed a sincere hope that conservatives will give Obama a chance so that Obama can end the partisan bickering and move our country forward.  And while I agree with the sentiment that ending partisan bickering would be a great thing, it’s really up to the left now. The fact is, there’s not really much Republicans can do about it either way.  American voters have given Democrats control of the House, the Senate and the White House.  G-d willing the Senate will not go to 60-40, but even at 56-44 there’s very little my side can do to stop the left’s agenda at this point.

So the real determination of whether my suspicions of Obama or my friends faith in him are correct will be whether Obama, Reid and Pelosi pursue a hard left agenda (as Reid and Pelosi at least have promised to do), or whether Obama chooses to follow his claims of centrism with actions. Only by doing that can he end the partisanship as he’s promised to do.

The reason I consider this such a tragic outcome for the country is that McCain spent his career building compromise and coalitions, and Obama had the most liberal and one of the most partisan records in his short Senate tenure. Any hope I have at this point is based on the fact that Obama has demonstrated in his campaigning that he’s quite comfortable changing his position on issues to triangulate around the electorate, much like Clinton did successfully.  If Obama continues to do so then the right may complain less, but it will be the hard left that will drive the bickering. For example, how long will it take Cindy Sheehan, MoveOn.org and the liberal media to turn on Obama if he announces that, now that he’s seen the full situation in Iraq he believes we must keep troops there for the forseeable future to prevent defeat.

On the other hand, while it may be impossible to imagine at this point, will American Jews (of which I am one) continue to deliver Florida to an Obama who allows Iran to aquire nuclear weapons and threaten a second Holocaust?

I hope Obama does choose to be a more Clintonian centrist rather than the Chicago liberal he’s been up to this point in his career.  But if he takes office and begins to pursue things like Card Check (ending the secret ballot for union organization), Fairness Doctrine (ending free speech by forcing conservative talk radio off the radio), and higher taxes that drive us into economic calamity, then the 56 million Americans who voted against him will probably not have much trouble attracting over the 371 thousand voters who swung the electoral college to Obama in the first place.

Obama won by holding Kerry’s 2004 states and adding several red ones to his column. So how many votes would McCain have needed to have prevented this?

  • 106,289 in OH
  • 99,152 in FL
  • 77,931 in VA
  • 69,751 in CO
  • 11,674 in IN
  • 6080 in NC

In total less than 371,000 votes separated McCain from the Presidency.

Of course, I understand that elections matter and the closeness of Obama’s victory does not change the fact that he gets to sit in the big chair now. But while being President will certainly be an exciting job for Obama, and some excellent managerial experience for his resume 🙂 he’s got some pretty big challenges ahead:

  1. By breaking his word to accept public financing, Obama has ensured that no Democrat will ever again enjoy a $600 Million to $84 Million spending advantage in a general election. Obama’s reneging left McCain at the largest spending disadvantage in US political history, and effectively killed public financing for presidential races. No serious candidate will ever settle for $84 million again, and McCain shouldn’t have done so. It’s hard to imagine outspending someone seven to one and still only prevail by 52% to 46%
  2. Obama’s set higher expectations than any president, and perhaps any dictator, could ever achieve. A father of two killed himself a few days ago and left a suicide note asking Obama to take care of his family. A woman on TV last night was saying that she was so relieved because she didn’t know how she was going to pay her rent, but that now Obama was going to rescue her. Obama himself has promised that electing him would bring change to the world and would be the moment when the waters begin to recede and the planet begins to heal. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want those kinds of expectations. A few days ago his campaign began to actively try and reduce expectations, saying that because of the economy they wouldn’t be able to achieve everything they had planned on. Managing people’s expectations will be a major challenge for the Obama amdinistration.
  3. Finally, a Rasmussen poll out yesterday finds that 51% of Americans believe the media was actively trying to help Obama win and 7% felt that they were trying to help McCain win. The American public, at least, believes that the media was actively working to elect Obama. They did so by blaming the financial crisis on Republicans and by hiding Obama’s record from the public. The problem for the media in the next election cycle is that it becomes harder and harder to convince people that everything is the Republicans’ fault. That won’t stop them from trying, of course, but convincing Americans, who per the Rasmussen survey already know the media is biased against the right, that a recession in November of 2010 is still Bush’s fault, is going to be a harder and harder sell.  Maybe even beyond the scope of the liberal press.

I love my country too much to hope for Obama to fail. As much as I believe his policies are foolish and that the public was never given the information they needed to understand him, unfortunately now America’s security, and indeed the world’s security, are tied up in the fortunes of a man who’s never run so much as a small Alaska town of 6,000.  I pray that he gets some good advisors and gets a handle on the egotism that caused him to promise the electorate that he would “heal the planet”. If he thinks that the sheer force of his charisma is going to protect this nation more than military strength, then we’re in for a world of pain. And the US media which protected him from scrutiny and failure in the campaign have no influence on whether his actions lead to a rise in global terrorism or to Iran aquiring nukes.

But if the people who so carefully stage-managed Obama in this election now surround him with people who have the experience we’d normally get from a President, then we can all hope that Obama will listen to them, follow their advice, and continue to deliver stirring speeches that will move people to tears. And in the end, he’ll still get credit for any success that comes of it.

But when the left considers where next to overreach, they should think about those 371,000 voters and whether Obama might have been unable to persuade them without his never-again $500+ Million advantage. Obama can choose to govern as though he had 90% support and that America is as hard-left as he is, and he’ll likely get the same rebuke in 2010 as Clinton got in 1994.  Or he can govern as though, with tremendous help from the media, from his financing decision and from the economic crisis, he was able to squeak out a 52% majority and come within 371,000 votes of defeat.  The people he chooses to surround himself with, the policies he chooses to pursue and the taxes he chooses to impose will be the clearest indication of which path he has chosen.

The Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton

November 5, 2008

Good words for today I think . . .

I am hurt but I am not slain.
I’ll lay me down and bleed awhile,
Then I’ll rise and fight again.

I'm calling it for McCain

November 4, 2008

I’ve got to get up in a few hours to go volunteer on election day, but I want to go on record here with something that I’ve been saying for weeks but just haven’t had time to write up.

The polls this year have been, whether through incompetence or malfeasance, utterly useless. I think this is related to a few things:

  1. Tendency for Obama supporters to *really* like to talk about their having been saved by The One. Think about it, how many Obama supporters have you been approached by with breathless stories of their pending salvation. On the other hand, how many McCain supporters did you only find out were McCain supporters when it came up some other way. The numbers of people who are declining to talk to pollsters this year is huge.
  2. Social conformity. There’s a great article linked from Zombietime which describes not only how this works, but why it doesn’t matter. In any case, it’s driven by the unprecedented ferocity of the Obamacons attacks on any dissenting voice. Fortunately, for the time being, the Democrats in Congress only want to rob workers of their secret ballots. They’ll come after voters after that, but at the moment American voters will be alone in their polling booths.
  3. Extension of media bias.  Most of these polls are sponsored by the same news organizations that have spent the last two years trying to convince us that Obama had already won. Polls are not clear mathematics. They, like the temperature prediction models that create global warming alarmism, are based on highly subjective equasions and weightings which try to predict turnout.  This year, they are overwhelmingly weighted toward a Democratic turnout model which looks nothing like the past. In a nutshell, they’re based on the assumption that all those first-time voters who turned up to put President Gore and President Kerry into office will turn up this year in massive numbers. What do you think?

Here’s the real reason The One has been encouraging all three of these things. To get you to stay home.  If you believe your candidate is going to lose in a landslide, then why bother showing up to cast your lone ballot.  But first of all, we know better.  And second of all, first time voters don’t.  The same forces that are supposed to keep conservatives at home out of despair will more likely keep liberals at home chilling their champagne.

And here’s the proof.  Both campaigns have excellent internal polling mechanisms that should be as reliable and accurate as anything out there. There’s no reason for a campaign to feed itself biased data even if it encourages the media to feed biased data to the public.  The campaigns use this internal polling to determine where they have the best shot at winning.

And when you look where BO, McCain and Palin have been hanging out these last few days, a lot of it is in places that those media polls say Obama’s already got sealed up tight.  So why would Obama be spending his precious last few campaign days in Pennsylvania, a traditionally blue state, if the polls preducting a landslide for him are accurate.

Answer: he wouldn’t, and the polls are anything but accurate.

All you have to do is vote today. So. Go. Vote!! And tell your conservative friends to do the same!!  Oh, and make sure your Obama friends know that if the poll lines are too long they can cast their ballots by text message through the American Idol numbers.  😉

Update: OK, you may have already heard this, but apparently my predictions above were not precisely correct. 😉 That said, see the post above for why this election feels a whole lot closer than it should have been given Obama’s structural advantages.