I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Has The Obama Star Faded Beyond Hope?

The votes have been counted in Pennsylvania and Barack Obama is feeling the heat from the furnace of desperation. He lost yet another “big” state to Hillary Clinton, but it is worse than just losing a state primary. Exit polling revealed that a scant 12% of voters were in the age range of 18 to 29 years old, which is not a good sign for a campaign that could rely heavily on the energy of the youth vote. Exit polling also revealed some dismal news for the Democratic Party in November. More than half of those casting a ballot for Clinton in Tuesday’s primary contest promised not to vote for Obama if he is the nominee in November. The same holds true for Obama voters if Clinton wins the nomination.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean promises that the nominee will be known by mid-June, but everyday that this drags on, more and more dirt is flung back and forth between the 2 campaigns. Hillary ran ads in Pennsylvania condemning Obama’s remarks concerning the “bitter” voters in small towns around Pennsylvania. Obama ran his own commercials against Clinton, but after spending 3 times the amount of money that the Clinton campaign did, he still came away with a resounding defeat. Over the past several weeks, there have been many political pundits that have openly called for Clinton to concede defeat, but the Democratic primary voters came out in force for Hillary. Why should she concede if she is still raising money, $10 million in the 24 hours after her Pennsylvania win, and if it is clear that Obama will not have the needed 2025 delegates to claim the nomination?

Obama is clearly showing the signs of a candidate struggling to finish the race. He has refused to sign on for any further debates in the North Carolina or Indiana. His campaign posits that they do not need any further debates because they are winning, but it is becoming apparent that the candidate is ill at ease answering tough questions. His political immaturity showed in the last debate where he struggled to answer questions from George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson. Could it be that his campaign is based on flowery, but empty rhetoric? He is in his element when he pontificating about hope and change, but when he is pressed with questions, the flowers all wilt and fall off.

Obama has also started to take criticism from the Republican Party and other conservative groups. One ad in North Carolina brings up his relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. The commercial was made by the North Carolina state Republican Party against the Democratic candidates for Governor. Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee, has denounced the ad and asked them to pull the ad, but the state party officials are standing firm with their support of the ad. There is also a proposed ad to point out that Obama was weak on punishing gang members convicted of murder in Illinois. While on the state senate, Obama voted against “expanding the death penalty for gang murders”.

As this primary season winds down, I have to wonder if either of these candidates will be left standing by the time the convention rolls around. Will the super delegates choose one of these 2 candidates, who are showing their divisive nature more and more, or will they opt for a wild card candidate that they hope will actually stand a chance of winning in November? Whatever happens, you can almost see the smile growing on McCain’s face as this nomination process drags on. It may be his best hope for capturing the White House in November.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Chaotic Political Process

The countdown to the April 22 Democratic primary in Pennsylvania is nearly over. The showdown in the Keystone state is especially important for both candidates for vastly different reasons. For Hillary Clinton, it is another “big” state that she needs to capture to solidify her claims that Obama cannot win the general election in November. For Barack Obama, it is one of the few remaining states that he desperately needs to win to convince the super delegates that he is the candidate to support.

The Pennsylvania contest has become interesting based on the voter registration numbers. For the first time in more than a generation, the Democratic registration rolls have swelled to a greater number than that of the Republicans in historically conservative Bucks County and other Republican strongholds. The Democratic party points to their candidates and their cross party appeal. The aspect that the Democratic leadership is neglecting to take into account is the prospect of Republicans switching parties to either prolong the Democratic infighting or to throw their support behind a candidate that they believe is easier to beat in November. Talk radio superstar, Rush Limbaugh, calls it “Operation Chaos”. The effect of this strategy was seen in Ohio and Texas, where Hillary collected her first primary wins in several states.

Whether or not you believe that the chaos strategy has had any effect, you must admit that the news stories since Ohio and Texas have brought out information that may not have been told until late summer. From Obama’s ties to Tony Rezco, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and William Ayres. The Ayres connection has become of interest of late, especially since more details of their connection has become known. Ayres was a member of the radical group Weather Underground. He was arrested but never convicted for more than 25 bombings during the 1960’s. He has since made comments stating that he was saddened that the bombings had not accomplished more. Clinton has made her own headlines with her amateurish claims of sniper attacks during her trips as First Lady.

Obama has begun to show some strain under the political microscope of a Presidential campaign. Last week he made some comments at a fundraiser that caused quite a stir. He said that voters in small towns in Pennsylvania cling to religion and their guns because they have no other hope. It was just another indication that the man that claims to be the candidate for the average voter, is completely out of touch with the rest of America. Obama attempts to portray an image of humble upbringing, but his education at the esteemed Punahou Academy, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School are rarely seen on the resume of an average Joe. I have no problem with someone who can afford to go to prestigious institutions, but don’t try to mislead the public into thinking you have been where they are.

Next Tuesday will be an interesting test for both campaigns, but this race is not nearly over. This is a battle that will last until the convention with the war of words and scandals will only continue to escalate. Both sides believe that they will win the nomination. Obama because of his popular vote totals, Clinton because of her wins in the big states, but neither side will have enough delegates to clinch the nomination before the convention. The political process has never been more fun.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

No More General Betray Us?

This week the Congress held committee briefings with General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. The briefings were the first since last September, when the General and Ambassador first reported of the successes of the troop surge. This briefing contained more good news from Iraq. The two men reported that the violence in Iraq has subsided substantially over the past several months, but that the successes of our brave men and women are tenuous and reversible. The report was updated with relevant facts from the ground in Iraq, but it was essentially the same report as in September. The overlying meaning in this report as well as the one from September is that we should continue to allow our troops to secure the country while the Iraqi’s forces are trained and take over the security of their own country.

Here are the links to General Petraeus September report, and to his April report.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi still warned in the days leading up to the briefings, that the General had better be truthful. Does Ms. Pelosi believe that the commander of our military in Iraq would lie under oath? Several other Democrats on the committees did nothing more than play to the cameras and make speeches about how they didn’t believe that we could win. Senator Carl Levin, after finally realizing the correct titles of the men he was addressing, launched into his diatribe about how the surge had failed because of recent attacks in Basra and Baghdad. He discounts all of the General’s experience and knowledge to say that we should set a timetable for withdrawal and promptly turn over control to the Iraqi security forces. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid equates the recommendation of Petraeus and Crocker to halt troop withdrawals for a 45 day cooling off period to taking one step forward and two steps back. I am unaware of Mr. Reid’s extensive qualifications on military operations and strategy, but he surely must be hiding a Congressional Medal of Honor in his desk to claim to know more that the two distinguished gentleman who appeared before Congress.

All three candidates for the presidency had the opportunity to question Petraeus and Crocker on Capitol Hill this week. In my opinion, McCain showed his experience and knowledge with his questioning. Clinton appeared to still be searching to find the right angle to spin this into a much-needed political gain for herself. Obama showed his vulnerabilities on foreign policy and military affairs.

The change in the Democratic response to Petraeus and the war strategy is markedly noticeable in Senator Obama’s call for a gradual troop withdrawal that will take 16 months. Not more than a few months, if not weeks, ago he was calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops. Save for a “small” strike force. Also missing from the briefings was the full-page ads of “General Betray Us”. Could it be that the Democrats are finally realizing the foolishness of their cut, run, and surrender military strategies? I believe that they are desperately trying to find some way out of the box they have closed on themselves. They can see the success that are troops are winning, and they simply cannot afford to be seen as calling for the defeat of American soldiers.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Can A Conservative Vote In This Election?

This election season is shaping up to be a contest between a political “moderate” and a liberal. I realize that the Democrats are far from deciding their nominee, but there really isn’t any substantive difference on policy between Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. Senator McCain, the unofficial Republican nominee, is the moderate in the race.

John McCain has built his political career around creating ulcers within the digestive tracts throughout the conservative ranks. He has enjoyed glowing media coverage, which has helped to solidify his “maverick” status in Washington. The important question of this election for Republicans is whether or not conservatives will show up to vote for McCain. Through all of the media hype about conservatives failing to line up behind him, I have come to realize that there is some misconceptions about what conservative believe and what we stand for.

I would like to give a brief overview of what I believe a conservative believes. I am a Christian, husband, father, American, conservative, and lastly a Republican. Those titles help define my beliefs. As a Christian I believe in the sanctity of innocent human life. Therefore, I am pro-life. I believe that life begins at conception and that life should be protected. I believe that little baby is a human life. If you ask any woman who is happily pregnant, she will not refer to the life growing inside of her as a fetus. To her it is her child, a baby. For me, my stand on abortion comes more from my Christian faith, and less so from my conservative viewpoint.

As a conservative, I believe that the government takes way too much money from our wallets in taxes. I don’t fall into the class envy trap that so many politicians are pushing these days. The political rhetoric on taxes has become a rich versus the rest of us rant. The “evil” rich are making too much money and not paying enough in taxes. What percentage of their income should the “evil” rich pay in taxes? Is 30% enough? What about 50%? Why not return to the days of more than 70%? Sadly many in our country would rather complain that the rich are too rich, than to actually sit down and figure out how they themselves might be able to make a better life for themselves. The class envy crowd love to point out that billionaire Warren Buffet has complained that his secretary, who makes $60,000 a year, pays more in income taxes than he does. I can’t help but ask 2 questions. Why doesn’t Mr. Buffet pay his secretary more so that she may be able find the tax loopholes that he exploits? If he truly believes that he should pay more in taxes, then why doesn’t he write a check to the Treasury Department? They will be more than happy to accept his money.

I also believe that the government has grown beyond a reasonable size. It has become the mentality of the general population that the government should take care of us from cradle to grave. This may not be a very popular idea right now, but the government should not be in the business of forgiving mortgages. The housing crisis, while painful, is completely necessary to correct a market that was completely out of control. If the politicians follow through on freezing foreclosures and forgiving mortgages, the housing market will take much longer to get back on its feet. It may make for great headlines, but is terrible economic policy. Once they start meddling with mortgages of those who are in danger of foreclosure, how long before they come and forgive my debt? Why should I be punished for proper financial planning?

I believe that the government has no role in meting out healthcare, or any of the other myriads of programs and services that the politicians propose. Senator Clinton is the godmother of universal healthcare but yet her campaign deemed it necessary to not pay the healthcare premiums for her campaign staff. Is this part of the Clinton healthcare plan? I thought “free” healthcare was a human right. I simply cannot understand how any thinking individual could want the federal government to take over our healthcare. They spend billions each year on our children’s education, but yet in most major cities less than half of those children graduate from high school. The same government who ran the Katrina response is going to run our healthcare system. How am I supposed to believe that they will be more efficient and provide higher quality care than the private sector?

I believe in a strong military that is ready to take on any and all threats, but also to see those conflicts through to the end. If we pack up and leave before there is a lasting peace in Iraq, it will just be a few short years before we find ourselves back over there again. Does anyone remember the debate leading up to the initial invasion for Desert Storm? Many opponents claimed that if the elder Bush had finished the job in the early 90’s, that we wouldn’t be in this mess. Isn’t amazing how those same people are now demanding that we leave Iraq before the peace has been achieved?

I have been called a Nazi, Hitler, fascist, moron, child polluter, member of the Reich wing, neocon, and numerous other names for espousing my beliefs. As if I will suddenly change my view on an issue because I was called a name. I believe that conservatives and liberals share some of the same objectives when it comes to caring for the poor and needy. Both groups agree that they need help, but where we differ is the means of providing that help. Conservatives believe that the private sector is the best way to meet their needs. Liberals generally believe that the government is the sole source to help.

As the general election heats up this summer and fall, conservatives will have to make the decision if McCain is worthy of their vote. Personally, there are many issues that the senator and I don’t agree on, but there are still others on which we do agree. When I weigh Senator McCain against either Obama or Clinton, I come to the conclusion that he is far closer to my beliefs that either of them. In politics, there is no perfect candidate with which you will agree with 100% of the time. This election season is no different; it is just a bit tougher choice.