Seven Versus One

The debate is over and there is a clear loser.  Whether by pact or we just got candidates this good, Obama was the only one with a target on his back last night.  Even Pawlenty wouldn’t take the obvious bait to attack front runner Mitt Romney.  The result was a debate of seven on one, and the One wasn’t there to defend himself.

The other loser in last night’s debate was CNN’s John King who amidst annoying grunts failed to turn the candidates on one another.  Even when he tossed Palin’s name out as an easy target for Republicans seeking to moderate, the response came from Tim Pawlenty and it was perfect.  Joe Biden has failed in every aspect as a Vice President, his views on Iraq were completely wrong, and Sarah Palin would be a better president than Biden or Obama.

Can Bachmann break through media created stereotypes?

The candidates handled tough hot button issues amazingly well also.  The shining example here was Michelle Bachmann who deflected an easy gotcha by making it clear that the role of the President and the role of the states in determining the fate of gay marriage is not equal.  She provided a balanced states rights view, while promising to protect the states from the courts if it came to that.  The other good answers on gay marriage were Ron Paul, leave it to the church and get government out, and actually Rick Santorum who explained that a constitutional amendment would require the approval of 75% of the states, something opponents rarely mention.  Cain appeared to struggle the most on the muslim staff question.

While there were no clear winners, I believe this debate showed two classes of candidates.  Michelle Bachmann led her class of fired up TEA Party approved candidates fighting for principled social and fiscal conservatism with unmeasured attacks against Obama and willingness to take heat for their views if deemed controversial.  Cain is included with this group, although he appears now more as a TEA Party candidate who jumped in feet first and now is searching for substance beyond catchphrases and buzz words.  He did not find that moment last night.  Ron Paul’s anti-establishment libertarianism may catch up to him this year when all the Revolution liberals realize that he does not support any federal entitlement programs.  Santorum failed to set himself apart as anything but a sacrificial lamb for 1st term George W. Bush style conservatism.  While they all performed well, Bachmann outshined this group.  Given the TEA Party’s success in 2010 and their conservative appeal, I would not write this group off.

The other group becoming apparent are the “intellectual”, restrained conservatives in Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty.  Their answers would not pass a soundbite test, but they were clear, well thought out, and flawless.  At the same time, these three touted socially conservative views and credentials which should make each one palatable for any Republican voter.  Newt was in a tough place and would need to be the only shining candidate last night to pull his campaign out of the rubble.  His performance was near flawless and enough to start the rebuilding process, but not good enough to bring him in from the dog house.  And while he may be right about ensuring that America is on board with the Paul Ryan plan, he is sure to take more heat for some of his comments last night.

Tim Pawlenty was perhaps the closest thing to a winner last night.  He made a great case for his pro-life record, perhaps settled some social conservatives with his call for his stance on homosexuality, connected with union and blue collar America, and magnanimously skipped a golden opportunity to play John King’s game and trash the front runner.  While the left-wing media rakes Pawlenty over the coals for his choice, conservatives should take a much closer look at a candidate who knows the enemy.

Mitt Romney will remain the front runner after last night.  The campaign has been nearly effortless for him sofar, and he made no mistakes that would cause him to lose his front runner status last night.  But he shouldn’t get too comfortable.  With Huntsman entering the race and with Rick Perry and Rudy Guiliani mulling Presidential runs of their own, the space Romney and Pawlenty occupy could get real crowded real quick.

In the end, the field last night did what they had to do.  They stayed focused on the economy and Obama.  They did not bite on questions obviously designed to turn them against each other and other Republicans.  They agreed with one another publicly and showed that any one of them is better than and can beat Barack Obama in 2012.

Potential Republican Presidential Candidate Runs Against DADT

Gary E. Johnson
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson
Bookmark and Share   While a lack of proper attention from the media prevents people from knowing the daily movements of former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, he has nonetheless been crisscrossing the nation arguably more than other Republicans who, with the exception of making it official, are undoubtedly actively seeking the G.O.P. nomination.

At each of his events, and through each of his interviews, the Governor never fails to distinguish himself as the most unique Republicans thought to be seeking the presidency. He is a true Republican, who believes in the core principles of the Party and he always has. But within those beliefs exists a purity of heart that has not allowed politics to alter those beliefs and water them down.

That is why Governor Johnson recently came out in support of a court ruling which declared the military must put an end to its discriminatory policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

But the Governor suggested that President Obama‘s request to put a stay on that ruling so that all parties concerned can prepare for it is unnecessary. According to him:

“Let that ruling stand and move on,”

 Johnson added:

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has always been wrong and it is still wrong.”  “This policy is just not fair and it does not work — we need to get rid of it now.”

As a Republican, Johnson’s position on the issue puts him in the minority of the Party establishment but it reflects the purity of his interpretation of the core conservative principle which dictates that government stay out of our private lives.

His stand in defense of the rights of gays to not have to hide who they are, is just one of many breaks from the establishment of the G.O.P.. Johnson also is at odds with the mainstream of the Party establishment when it comes to his support of abortion rights and for the legalization of marijuana and prostitution. While he does not personally endorse abortion and does not encourage or participate in prostitution and pot smoking, he understands that government does not have the right to make those decisions for him.

Johnson’s stands on the issues, which include opposition to the wars in Iran and Afghanistan, will lead some to paint him as a liberal. Others will appreciate his libertarian Ron Paul-like streak. But like Ron Paul, will that appreciation be enough to overcome the Republican base in a race to be the standard-bearer of the Party?

The answer to that question relies upon two other questions.

Could the rise of TEA movement challenge the hold of the religious right enough to counter their influence over the G.O.P.? And at a time when social issues have taken a backseat to the economic crisis that we face, will Johnson’s untraditional positions on social issues be enough of a factor to dramatically hurt him after voters get to hear his commonsense conservative approach to limited, smaller government, states rights, fiscal responsibility and a free market based economy?  Afgter all, right now,  ‘it really IS the economy, stupid’.

Being one of the few libertarian thinking Republicans to be elected and reelected to govern an entire state, Johnson does bring to the table an advantage that others like Paul do not. He has proven that even with his unorthodox Republican positions, he can win widespread, popular support from the political mainstream. If he can do so on the national level is yet to be seen.  Competing for the Republican presidential nomination with these positions against an unusually large field of more traditional, well known, well financed Republican figure, will be a great challenge. But few have a better chance of facing that challenge than Johnson does.

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