Posts Tagged ‘Bachmann’
August 22nd, 2011 at 5:21 pm
Ryan’s Express Exit

Well, Paul Ryan is out of the presidential race without having entered it.  For those of us who value limited government and want to see fiscal discipline in Washington, and who desperately want a candidate who can articulate the need for and details of reforms, it is a disappointment that Rep. Ryan will not enter the race.

It does occur to me that of the candidates who are in the race, the one whose record and platform both match most closely with Ryan’s is former Sen. Rick Santorum. Far be it from me to issue any endorsement, especially considering that candidate selection involves political considerations in addition to mere analysis of records and platforms, but my prediction — as an analyst — is that Santorum will at least attempt to make a big move to attract activists who had been waiting on the sidelines to see what Ryan would do. Santorum remains a long shot, but he’s steadily creeping up in terms of public consciousness and support.

Of course, both Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann also would claim the mantle of Ryan-esque conservative reformers (although, frankly, Bachmann doesn’t fit because Ryan is an institutionalist and legislator whereas she is consciously an outsider and back-bencher), and the immediate benefit may flow to Perry as the most Ryan-like front-runner (the bandwagon effect is alive and well).  But in terms of persona, geography, personal backgrounds, style, and mastery of the substance of national issues, Santorum and Ryan are indeed a close fit.

It will be interesting to see if any other boomlet starts to try to recruit yet another candidate into the race (other than Sarah Palin, who has always been a possibility) — or, if, finally, the field (other than Palin) starts to settle down and the attention at last turns to those actually in the race rather than to those on the outside that some people wish would get in.

August 15th, 2011 at 12:17 pm
How the American Public is Wrong

At NRO, Andy McCarthy  writes (bolded parts are my own emphases):

Pawlenty’s attack on Bachmann didn’t work for the same reason the conventional wisdom about Bachmann’s candidacy doesn’t work: You are not going to impress ordinary Americans, who think the system is broken, by bragging about how much experience you have in the system. I’m not saying Pawlenty was a bad governor — from everything I’ve read, he seems to have done a very good job under difficult blue-state constraints. But a case built on governing experience, which tells voters: “I know how to make this system work and get better results” is not going to bowl over people who think the system needs dramatic overhaul. They don’t want to hear about the results you’re going to get in Washington; they want to hear how you’re going to transfer money and power out of Washington. They want to know how you’re going to stop Washington from destroying our present and stealing their kids’ future.

I think McCarthy is correct about this being the overwhelming attitude among the public. I also think the public is dangerously wrong on this.

This attitude of “throw all the bums out” is emotionally satisfying, but profoundly misguided. If you are the general manager of a horrible football team — for instance, the Bengals for most of the past 20 years — you would be really, really, really, really dumb to throw all the bums out, especially if they are to be replaced only with people with almost no NFL experience. I’m sorry, but there really is a skill set that can be developed only through experience. A team full of rookies won’t win, can’t win, no matter what.

All the right sentiments in the world, and all the right issue “positions,” won’t do any good if those who hold the positions and sentiments have no mastery of the system. Why is it that in politics, but nowhere else but politics, does the public think that experience isn’t valuable? It’s an utterly illogical idea.

I’ve seen it again and again: “Reformers” get into office with all the best motivations but no idea about how things work. They remain reformers for two or three years — but then they either succumb to corruption, or to power trips, or to conventional wisdom that subverts their principles. The public can’t really know if the elected officials can be trusted to be true statesmen until those officials have been in office long enough to remain reformers even after the bad-old-boys have time to regroup, re-strategize, and counter-attack against the would-be reformers — and until all the other snares of office have been not just rejected but overcome, repeatedly, all while polishing the toughness and canniness necessary not just to say the right things but actually get the right things done.

Conservatives, of all people, should understand this. But these days, we don’t. We’re looking for the latest greatest American Idol; our attention span is about as long as a text message; we swoon over the newest savior while ignoring those who have maintained their integrity and actually improved their effectiveness over the years, all because we actually denigrate effective experience. This American Idolatry and denigration of experience is a terrible flaw on the right these days; indeed, it’s a pathology.

To take examples of people who are NOT running for president (and thus to avid a specific political stand; i.e., these are for example, not to pick on any actual would-be candidates), this is why it is absurd for conservatives to think, this cycle, of the likes of Chris Christie or Marco Rubio to be president. They just haven’t been at the highest levels of positions that require the right skill sets for a long enough time. They have huge potential; but potential isn’t the same as qualifications.

While I’m at it, the other flaw in conservative public perception is the denigration of legislative experience. Again, this is absurd. Knowing how to get things actually passed into law, through the legislative process, is a virtue, not a vice. Many voters may say they want “executive experience,” but the truth is that a major committee chairman or a party’s conference/caucus chairman or Leader in a legislative chamber is indeed a position that requires significant executive skills. Staffs are large. Power is utilized in an executive fashion. And the right combination of personal assumption of authority with the ability to delegate some responsibilities is essential.

Most of the worst presidents have been those with the least relevant experience. Obama. Carter. Harding. And, lest we forget, John F. Kennedy in his first two years, as George Will reminded us the other day.

And yes, I know that Kennedy had been in Congress for 12 years already. But he was almost a nonentity once there. He missed huge swaths of time while hospitalized, sometimes near death, with his Addison’s Disease. He was mostly a dilettante, with little actual legislative accomplishment. He was, in short, a lightweight in the House and Senate.

Anyway, in the spirit of Russell Kirk and Edmund Burke (although I tend otherwise to the Jeffersonian/Madisonian realm), I urge conservatives to remember that prudence and experience are usually prerequisites for wisdom and statesmanship. Stop looking for the new new thing. Stop looking for an Idol. Start demanding real accomplishment, not just splashy, ineffective PR stances.