Monday, May 16, 2011

Faux Fear And Loathing Among Liberals

Liberal Democrats love to tell conservative Republicans which GOP candidate might appeal to them and independents. The ploy frequently sways enough voters in primaries so that the "acceptable" candidate wins the nomination. And then, just as with Lucy and Charlie Brown, the football is pulled away during the general election. Can you say "John McCain?"

Democrats love to talk about their favorite Republican "mavericks," and moderates and how dangerous they could be for the choice of the Democratic Party. Then, like clockwork, the day after the Republican nominee is chosen he becomes an object of low humor, derision, and angry denunciations by the same Democrats who had praised him. They warn Republicans that if their candidate is too conservative, he (or she) just can't win. They demonstrate their faux fear of the moderate/liberal Republican candidate by advising Republicans that if they nominate so-and-so, the Republicans might just win. It reminds me of Bre'r Rabbit pleading not to be thrown into the briar patch.

So now I have to consider why some liberals are warning their own about Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana. There had been talk among the movers and shakers of the Democratic Party that Daniels might be the John McCain for 2012. Hendrik Herzberg of The New Yorker had given the governor McCain-like reluctant praise, writing: "He doesn't throw off the crackles of craziness. I found his effect reassuring. When it comes to red meat, he seems to be a vegetarian." Uh, oh. Daniels is sane. That could be dangerous for Democrats. Let's let the Republicans know we're scared of him. Maybe they'll nominate him, and then we can hit him with the switcheroo. Same stuff, different package.

Michael Kinsley of Politico was an early proponent of "fearing" Daniels. Said Kinsley: "the blue-eyed governor would be better than any of the other Republicans who are running to stop Obama from winning a second term." Kinsley couldn't resist at least one "he's white" comment, but you get the idea.

That piece was followed by "maverick/moderate" phony praise for Daniels in the New York Times, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. So imagine my surprise when I see the age-old mouthpiece of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, The New Republic, warning its readers that Daniels may not be the McCain choice after all. "Don't be fooled" said TNR. Daniels had recently announced that he would not campaign on social issues. He told reporters: "We still need people who never tune in to Rush or Glenn or Laura or Sean." Some right wing bloggers jumped all over Daniels for that. Still, TNR believes it knows the truth: "But savvier and more influential voices on the right know better than to think Daniels would run as a moderate Republican."

So instead of announcing its fake fear of Daniels to Republicans, it announced its real fear of Daniels to the Democratic faithful. TNR trotted out a bloody litany of Daniels atrocities. He was president of Eli Lilly, one of the largest drug companies in the world. He initiated the largest private-school voucher program in the nation. He took donations from the Koch Brothers. He has stated that he would sign a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood. He abolished the right of Indiana teachers to bargain collectively on anything except wages. He supports Paul Ryan's proposed federal tax cuts. God help us all, he even privatized a state highway.

TNR then goes on to list the frightening collection of fascists and fascist organizations that have spoken well of Daniels's record. Dick Armey and his friends in the Tea Party. The Weekly Standard. Arthur Brooks and the American Enterprise Institute. The American Spectator. And the lowest of the low, National Review. As an example of liberal-think gone wrong in the past, the author brought up the favorable biography of McCain by liberal Elizabeth Drew. The book was praised by liberal historian and FDR biographer Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Then the magazine went on to list the post-primary vision of their previous favorite McCain:

"The celebrated maverick chose Sarah Palin as his running-mate, embraced a Muslim-bashing preacher, and accused Barack Obama of running a radical education foundation with Bill Ayers." But at least McCain had some bipartisan legislative accomplishments on his record before he became the presidential candidate. Yep, McCain-Feingold comes to mind. Still, TNR can find no such accomplishments for Daniels. The problem here with TNR's logic is that McCain did exactly what the "fearful" left was hoping to engineer--he lost.

By logical extension, if McCain with all his liberal support turned fascist after getting the nomination, imagine what will happen if Daniels gets the nomination. He'll be a super-fascist. Or so TNR appears to believe. Says TNR: "For Daniels [unlike McCain], bipartisanship seems to consist of seducing journalists at what Hertzberg describes as a 'gilded age' mansion." Beware--the end is near! "But if he does go lunatic [Daniels once mused "what sane person would run for president?], the policies Daniels espouses will be no better than those of his GOP rivals."

Completing the thought, TNR adds: "In order to win the nomination, all in the running will have to take stands even to the right of Reagan, who as president was heedless of deficits and left Medicaid and Medicare alone. A good salesman like Daniels may be able to make the conservative creed sound 'reassuring.' But, in reality, he will have no desire to alter the harmful doctrines of the faith." In other word, TNR believes that Daniels is a truly dangerous conservative threat to Obama rather than a fake conservative like McCain. Rather than try to ambush him after the primary voters have made their choice, it's better to warn off less-sophisticated Democrats now who might think he's another McCain.

I'm certainly not going to make my decision about which candidate to support based on what liberals tell us about who would be their most dangerous adversary. And I'm not ready to support a candidate based on who TNR considers to be a genuine conservative. But the simple fact that TNR considers Daniels to be too dangerous to deserve even faint praise makes me want to take a longer look at him.

Andrew and I have both written about Daniels previously. We have discussed his positives, his negatives, and his "questionables" in order to help our readers (and ourselves) make up our minds. Andrew's posts can be found at Conservatives Should Embrace Indiana Abortion Bill and Mitch Daniels--Conservative?. Mine can be found at Mr. Show, Meet Mr. Go and Who's In Charge Here?.

As we move through the early election season, I'd like to remind each of us of two things. 1. The perfect is the enemy of the good. 2. There was only one Ronald Reagan.


T-Rav said...

I love it when liberals appear to get worked up about which Republican could have crossover moderate appeal and defeat them. Last week, I heard they were "afraid of" Jon Huntsman, of all people. This doesn't really change my opinion of Daniels--partly because that opinion isn't very high anyway right now--but shouldn't appeal among the Left be a dealbreaker for GOP candidates by this point?

StanH said...

This is something we must guard against, allowing the MSM (the enemy) too pick our candidate. The RNC chairman, what’s his name? …needs to close the primaries post- haste. The press understands their boy king (Barry) is vulnerable and imminently beatable, look for the hooey to grow thick, and revealing at the same time, as they understand their ass is on the line as well. This election is vitally important to the survival of our republic, don’t be fooled by the snake oil salesmen in the press, they really don’t want “Himself” fired in a massive landslide, I feel they’re to late. Important point Lawhawk, and needs to be heeded.

Unknown said...

T_Rav: As we've discussed before, we try to vet candidates rather than pick them. And we don't endorse until after the parties have chosen their candidates. This just happened to be the first time in a very, very long time that TNR went out of its way this early to caution its fellow liberals about a potential Republican candidate. You have to remember that the left liking a given candidate isn't a problem for conservatives. It's moderates and independents they're aiming at.

Unknown said...

Stan: It's going to be interesting, that's sure. I see this as the Republicans' race to lose, not Obama's race to win. I find it almost impossible to believe the Republicans will make the "McCain mistake" this time.

I want to see what's going to happen when the field narrows and we get into the real debates. I've never seen Daniels interact with other candidates during a debate, and that might very well be the thing that decides whether I'll vote for him or someone else. One thing that wouldn't convince me to vote for or against any of them is the "he's dangerous" recommendation of the MSM.

AndrewPrice said...

What's funny is that now that Huckabee has dropped out, the media is running glowing tributes to him and saying the left was "afraid" of him the most.

The latest issue with Daniels now is his wife. They've been telling everyone that she doesn't want him to run, but then she gives speeches on behalf of him running? I can't make heads or tails of that. In other words, I don't know if this is about creating drama or if there really is a problem. Or this could just be the new "in" thing to seem humble -- Obama tries this too, though it's clear that Queen Michelle loves the perks of the job.

Anyway, if I had to bet, right now, I think Daniels will ultimately be the nominee -- unless the Religious Right rallies behind Pawlenty now that the Huckster is gone.

It's just too bad that none of our candidates seem to want it. Seriously, I've never seen a group of candidates more afraid to express an opinion or start throwing punches.

Unknown said...

Andrew: That's a better explication of what I was saying to Stan. A lack of "fire in the belly" could be the factor that undoes the fact that the country wants sane fiscal policy and a leader who leads. Obama stinks as a leader, but he loves, loves, the presidency. No matter how good the Republican candidate's programs and competence, if it looks like the "reluctant virgin" got the nomination by default and really isn't that interested in being president, Obama will win.

I'm still hoping for a dark horse, but my hopes are dimming as we get closer to the primaries.

StanH said...

I still like Herman Cain, a lot. Don’t prejudge this man, he’s the real deal. This “inexperienced” meme, now becoming conventional wisdom being proffered by the MSM, is complete hooey, especially when compared to our Barry. He’s not a wilting flower, and will bring the fight home like no other, instantly removing the race card, except for the race industry carping about “Uncle Tom” …boring. I’ve seen him speak several times, he can go 45 minutes or more without a teleprompter, speaking about first principles from his heart. Do not despair Lawhawk, he may be that dark horse, no pun intended.

Unknown said...

Stan: All my political instincts tell me that Cain won't be the candidate, but my heart is certainly with him. I also get the impression that he will continue to let the establishment have it right between the eyes, pushing the nomination to the right and toward pro-business/job creation ideals. I certainly agree on his executive experience. Who the hell wants someone whose only "executive" experience is in government? If our business executives ran their businesses the way most government executives run theirs, there would be no private business.

Unknown said...

Andrew: Now that the Huckster and the Donald are out, the field is narrowing quickly. Between the two of them, most polls showed they had about 1/3 of the support of Republicans. Of course it was early, and the support was soft, but considering the difference between the two candidates, I have no idea how those two groups are going to split.

BevfromNYC said...

Can someone convince Condoleeza Rice to run? Or at least put her name in the hat for VP. Repubs MUST be bold. She's got foreign policy experience coming out of all orifices. And I would LOVE to see a debate between Biden and Rice. THAT would be entertaining.

Unknown said...

Bev: That's an option I hadn't thought of. She certainly would bring a lot to the ticket.

rlaWTX said...

do you think that maybe poll respondents just didn't want to give the MSM a good target? could that be why Trump was so "popular"?

I understand the response of "yeah, sic 'em" that went with the Trump reaction, but I didn't know why it was so high.

Tennessee Jed said...

I've said all along I'd like to see Condi on the ticket. She did a good job kicking Lawrence O'Donald in the nuts the other night when he went attack dog on her. I also want to use it to help blunt the race card. I like Cain in that slot as well.

I know a lot of the potential candidate are not taking the gloves off. I think they are looking at it like a golf tournament. By that I mean you can't win the tournament on the first day, but you sure as hell can lose it. Try not to get pinned down, blah, blah blah. Unfortunately, we don't have a perfect candidate, at least not yet. But I agree, Hawk. This election will be about the economy and jobs, hence a referendum on Obama. We need to find someone who doesn't give anyone sitting on the fence a chance to say "Barry is damaged, but still the lesser of two evils."

I'll back anyone against BOTUS, but would still draft Ryan if I could. He defends the economic piece as well as anyone we have. Ryan/Rice: what do ya think?

Unknown said...

rlaWTX: I think the Trump support was a mile wide and an inch deep. It was refreshing for a large number of people to hear somebody using plain, descriptive speech. I think that would have faded quickly if Trump had stayed in the race.

Democrat stalwart Bob Beckel said that Newt Gingrich would have a chance if he didn't immediately express every thought that comes into his mind. I think that was pretty accurate. Trump did the same thing, without half the intelligence. Newt will be good for the race, even though I don't think he has a chance of winning the nomination (and frankly, I wouldn't want him to).

Unknown said...

Tennessee: I agree. The time for fence-sitting is just about over, as is the time for a "draft." Enthusiasm is as contagious as is lethargy. It's time for enthusiasm. I have reservations about Ryan, but not because he isn't qualified. He is serving a vital function in the House, and I don't think he wants to run. He's a bottom-line kinda guy, and he thinks the budget disaster is still a work in progress that requires his full time attention. He's young, attractive and smart. I'd like to see him finish the job in Congress and consider a presidential run later.

Unknown said...

Tennessee: It occurred to me that I could come out of the closet about my "dream team" since there's little or no chance that either of them will run this time. Jindal/Rubio or Rubio/Jindal. One of the things I admire most about each of them is that they have done excellent jobs in their current positions but genuinely believe that it's their duty to finish that work before they move on. I believe that team could beat Obama/Biden in a walk, but it's not meant to be. I chose Jindal/Rubio over Rubio/Jindal solely because Jindal has proven executive credentials (and he even took Obama on over the oil spill). Rubio has the stuff, just not the experience. Obama had neither the stuff nor the experience.

Notawonk said...

when the left starts advising us, you know it's time to start looking in the opposite direction. unless....they advise of us who's horrible for our own party, then you wanna take that dude/dudette out for beerz.

BevfromNYC said...

Nikki Haley is an Up-n-comer too. I think a Jindal/Haley ticket would make the hair of every Lib stand on end and their eyes bug out. But she has the Rubio problem that she needs seasoning.

Unknown said...

Patti: We're on the same wavelength. I'm certainly not on Daniels's bandwagon yet, but when an influential magazine like TNR expresses serious reservations about "going easy" on a Republican potential candidate, I have to think they're worried. Even the simple fact that different groups within the liberal/left are treating Daniels in entirely different ways leads me to think that they are in some disarray over at least one potential Republican nominee.

Unknown said...

Bev: Well, if we did come up with a Jindal/Haley ticket, I'd love to hear Biden make another one of those comments about who runs all the 7-11s in town. The VP spot could suit either Rubio or Haley, since it's theoretically on-the-job training.

OK, I can't resist updating the crack my mom made about Goldwater ("I always knew the first Jew to run for president would be an Episcopalian"). With Jindal/Haley, it would be "I always knew that the first two Indians to run for president and vice-president would be a Catholic and a Methodist." LOL

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