Impact of NY-23 on the 2012 Presidential race

 Today's Washington Times has a story by Ralph Hallow about NY-23. One of the things Ralph discussed was Newt Gingrich's struggles with the race. He quotes Newt:

He said Mr. Hoffman's "rise is a result of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News, the Club for Growth, Gov. [Sarah] Palin and [Minnesota Gov. Tim] Pawlenty and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and virtually the entire national conservative movement joining with Mike Long, whose Conservative Party, a very established organization, which won its first big race 39 years ago."

It is striking to me that Tim Pawlenty is the only presumptive 2012 candidate in that list, unless Sarah Palin really gets in, but there are no indications that she is. After a Presidential primary in which Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee fought out for the conservative mantle (to a stalemate, I might add), they both were absent from this battle.

You see, NY-23 is the first big fight of the 21st century for the conservative movement. It is important to remember that this movement is about moving the to the right by moving its governing coalition to the right. That means, by definition, the Republican Party because it is the vehicle of the center-right coalition in American politics. There can be no doubt that, whatever the result on Tuesday or afterwards, that the leadership of the GOP has been chastened. Marc Ambinder's analyzes the race and concludes that Scozzafava's social liberalism was necessary to create the conditions on the ground for the Conservative Party to reach out to national groups. However, ultimately, the Club for Growth, responding to her positions on card-check, the stimulus, etc., funded Hoffman and really made this happen. In other words, the two key components of the conservative movement came together in perfect complimentarity.

So we have the definitional fight for the conservative movement, post-Bush. And only Pawlenty shows up at the fight? But for the movement, the question is as much "are you with us on the fight" as it is "are you with us on issues". Let's consider how this impacts Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, both of whom declined being in the fight over the last several weeks.

Let's take Huckabee first. Mike Huckabee not only didn't endorse Doug Hoffman, Huckabee took $20,000 away from Hoffman's GOTV effort (which tells me that he isn't running, but ...):

Huckabee, who according to Upstate Committee sources is receiving a five-figure fee in excess of $20,000 for his appearance, has refused to personally endorse Hoffman, who is pro-life and signed the "no-tax" pledge in August before his announced candidacy, and has informed Hoffman that HuckPAC will not support him either. Some Conservative Party officials believe Huckabee's fee is intended for his PAC. Ironically, the dinner is held to honor conservatives who exemplify conservative principles.

This offers a(nother) critique of Huckabee from the movement perspective. Huckabee is particularly vulnerable here. In 2008, no electorally significant critique damaged Huckabee within his base of evangelical voters. Why? I think that Ramesh Ponnuru nailed it in a discussion of Romney's campaign:

Romney’s problem was not that he is a Mormon. It was that he is not an evangelical. A strong plurality of evangelicals “would have backed Huckabee against anybody — Mormon, Buddhist, or Catholic,” says another former Romney adviser. “They were voting for one of their own.” To attribute Romney’s loss in Iowa to anti-Mormon prejudice from evangelicals, he says, is like attributing Romney’s victories in Utah and Nevada to Mormons’ hostility to people from all other faiths. But this adviser reaches the same conclusion as his colleagues who blamed anti-Mormonism: Romney should not spend as much time and resources on Iowa next time. 

In other words, the options for Huckabee voters were to go to Romney. Not going to happen. But guess what? Tim Pawlenty is an evangelical. Indeed, during the VP speculation in 2008, the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody argued, "Pawlenty may be the one guy to help McCain with working class moderates AND socially conservative Evangelicals." So he can genuinely compete with Huckabee or someone similar to his right.

Ramesh notes that Romney ran as the candidate of the conservative movement (and I would point out that Fred Thompson's candidacy was about the fundamental mismatch of Romney the man and Romney the candidate of the movement):

All these advisers may, however, be looking at Romney’s options too narrowly. Romney’s strategy in the last campaign was not to run as the social conservatives’ candidate. It was to run as the movement-conservative candidate. Throughout the primary he claimed that he best represented what he called “the three legs of the stool” holding up conservatism, with the legs representing conservative positions on social issues, economics, and foreign policy. The attempt to rally his party’s right made a certain strategic sense. Giuliani and John McCain started the primary season with higher profiles than Romney and, in different ways, represented the party’s left wing. Running to the right thus presented Romney with an opportunity.

Romney, in not playing in NY-23 has, in some important sense, laid the groundwork for a(nother) criticism of him as the candidate of the conservative movement. How can he be the candidate of the movement but duck out on the first major fight of the movement. (2nd, if you count healthcare, which doesn't cut nicely for Mitt...) Can he really run from the same location that he had earlier? No. This suggests that he is taking the route that Ramesh almost recommends by moving to the left end of the party and/or the establishment. (I distinguish between these)

This time Romney could follow a different path. There are no prospective McCains or Giulianis, no heavyweights from the left or even the center of the party. Instead of running as the movement conservative in the race, Romney could run as a party-establishment candidate who is acceptable to the Right. That strategy wouldn’t require him to move left on the issues. But it would entail, among other things, taking fewer jabs at the other candidates for not being conservative enough (jabbing them for having bad ideas would still be in season). It would entail advertising Romney’s conservatism less. The policies could still be conservative — but he would promote them as good ideas more than as conservative ones. 

 I don't know how this plays out. Romney running from establishment/left of the party, and Pawlenty running to the right? Perhaps. There's another angle that Ramesh notes:

To be a strong candidate, finally, Romney has to address one weakness that has not gotten much attention: his lack of appeal to middle-income and low-income voters. The exit polls from the primaries tell a consistent story. In Iowa and Florida, he won pluralities only among those voters who made more than $100,000 a year. In New Hampshire, voters had to make more than $150,000 before they started favoring him. Michigan, where Romney’s father was governor, was the great exception: Romney won among every income group above $30,000 a year. If Romney can’t find an economic message and a way of making it that appeals to middle-class voters, he may as well save his money and not bother running.

Again, we have Pawlenty's strong suit: reaching out to the middle class and working class.

The field is set. A working-to-middle class Midwestern candidate with strong evangelical roots running against a white-shoe Northeast wealthy candidate with strong western roots. This will be an interesting battle.

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Mr. Romney and Mr. DeVos

Mr. Romney will lose to Barak Obama in 2012 as surely as the feckless Jennie Granholm defeated Mr. Dick DeVos in Michigan's 2006 gubernatorial campaign. Democrats have resurrected class warfare as theirroute to power and they do very well when Republicans nominate someone from the country club wing of their party. Particularly, when the Republican candidate is a child of wealth. I am sorry, this is the way things are right now. I liked George Romney and Rich DeVos and am confident their sons are good men, too. BUT they're too easy for class warriors to demonize. It's no different from refusing to vote for a candidate because he's Black or Catholic. But that street only runs one way.

Pawlenty Can do Whatever he Wants, but he Won't Make it

Pawlenty's a candidate in the spirit of John Glenn, Alan Cranston, Howard Baker, Richard Lugar, etc.

Which is to say -- he's smart, a decent politician, a honest man, but just not charismatic at any level.   He's good on paper, but he just doesn't strike most people as Presidential material.

And three years from now, nobody's going to care what Huckabee did in some special election.  This is something that political junkies and activists obsess over -- not regular people.  McCain committed far worse sins, and he won the nomination.

Won't work

It is important to remember that this movement is about moving the to the right by moving its governing coalition to the right.

This shows what's wrong with the strategic thinking of the present conservative movement.  By moving all Republican candidates to the right, they will never assemble a "governing coalition".  They will build a permanent minority party. 

Another disturbing thing about the narrative: The revolution against the moderate was not from cultural conservatives upset about her position on abortion.  It was from business conservatives (the Club for Growth) upset about her position on card check.  This is Reaganism: manipulate cultural conservatives for the purpose of helping the rich.  This is why Huckabee can never be nominated: he's not a business conservative.  Sooner or later, cultural conservatives who believe in Christian ethics will start joining the more ethical party -- the Democrats.


  Sooner or later, cultural

Sooner or later, cultural conservatives who believe in Christian ethics will start joining the more ethical party -- the Democrats.

There is no way a majority of Democrats would support christian fundamentalist views influencing state policy; like adopting an abortion ban or discriminating against gays. Given the demographic trend of declining "religiosity" among the young in America, I hope the christian zealots become a more and more narrower group over time. It is the only way a clear majority of so called "cultural conservatives" might evolve into a more tolerant group over time and support the Democrats, not just as a lesser-of-the-two-evils option, but for their progressive policies in all aspects, including the cultural.

  The next big fight I


The next big fight I anticpate is going to be within the Left;  between the Rationalist/Science/Atheist community(minority) and the Spiritual/New Age community (majority). Both these communities are growing (while the christian conservatives of the Right is declining.)

We have already seen some tensions with the anti-vax movement.

The right has a real oppurtunity here, to not only drive a wedge and weaken their oppostion, but also to perhaps broaden their own coalition. For this the Right first needs to dramatically improve their pro-science creds by dumping creationism, anti-evolutionism and anti-climate change stances (which are the bigger crimes.)

no heavyweights from the left or even the center of the party

I'm not a pure libertarian. And that statement removes me from the clutches of anarchy.

But what I am is a constructionist. Sort of a libertarian, Bob Bork language, social mediator.

I have no problem with changing law. I just would have wished that the law was changed by legislative action--even extended to Constitutional Amendment legislative action--rather than by judicial <em>ukase</em>.

I know that formalised thinking is in <em>denoument</em> currently.

But that decline needn't be permanent. There are a limited number of social outcomes for every type of decision. Greater authority. Greater autonomy.  There is always a choice.

<em>Ex nihilo</em> I can't expect to suddenly find another answer laying before me, as yet undiscovered.

Given the binary nature of our historical experience, I am an unqualified advocate for the Nation's Mayor.

But this isn't based upon a romantic relationship with Mayor Guiliani's record. It is based upon his work as an advocate for justice. We don't have many of those.

Annenberg does.

The unfortunate truth is, though, that the foundation has scrubbed Guiliani from its' website.

They have records of Guiliani. You just can't find them. Change! (Shame on the Admins.)

Mayor Guiliani is one of America's foremost prosecutors, politicians and administrators. He is type and kind different from most of our predominantly "chosen" politicians, in that "his time" occured at moments when his rational approach to problems was the only solution left.

I don't believe that there is another American with greater belief in America as a shining light for others than Mayor Rudy Guiliani. Next best, and my hope if Rudy doesn't come to the ball?

The Governor. She still believes in America as America. The transcendence of libertarianism and republicanism.

America is still worth believing in. Right or wrong.

(BTW-What is going on with the Annenberg site? The search function seems to be totally akimbo.)


I see an Anti Christian bigot

I see an Anti Christian bigot has made the obligatory post on The Next Right.

What a sad sack.  

The GOP doesn't need haters like that poster. 

EV, being against something

EV, being against something with good reason is not bigotry. Given its utter irrationality and its appalling track record over the centuries of producing dire social ills of many kinds, there are lots of excellent reasons to be opposed to fundamentalist Christianity. You and the likes of you are kind enough to put some of them on display at the Next Right for all to see, on a regular basis. Thanks for this public service.

Christian fundamentalism

EV, being against something with good reason is not bigotry. Given its utter irrationality and its appalling track record over the centuries of producing dire social ills of many kinds, there are lots of excellent reasons to be opposed to fundamentalist Christianity.

You don't even know what "it" truly is and yet you categorically state you are against "it".  That's what makes you a bigot.  You've prejudged all fundamentalist Christians as obeying a deeply flawed stereotype.

Did you know that social conservatives give more to charity than any other political group, even more than other conservatives?

Did you know that fundamentalist Christians run a great number of adoption agencies and crisis pregnancy centers?

In fact, did you know that fundamentalist Christians are also human beings, just like you?  And the ones who are here in America, why, they are also your fellow citizens!

It makes me both angry and sad that, despite all of the good things that your fellow citizens do, you have no problem writing them off as contemptible.

There are excellent reasons to be opposed to fundamentalist Christianity.  There are also excellent reasons to praise it.  Why do you only give the negative reasons?  How is your characterization of fundamentalist Christianity as just "utter irrationality" and "producing dire social ills" any different than a person's bigoted characterization of, say, Mexicans as lazy, or Jews as swindlers?  All of these statements are false generalizations of an entire group of people, motivated mostly by contempt towards the group rather than by any logical evaluation of the evidence.

At least lgm is willing to admit that fundamentalist Christians are, at their heart, basically ethical people, even if he falsely claims that his party is the "more ethical" one.

Oh, and by the way - neither creationism nor intelligent design is a part of the Republican Party platform.

You don't even know what "it"

You don't even know what "it" truly is and yet you categorically state you are against "it".  That's what makes you a bigot.  You've prejudged all fundamentalist Christians as obeying a deeply flawed stereotype.

chemjeff, you suceed only in showing that you're too stupid to understand what the word "bigotry" means. In chemjeff-speak it evidently means "expressing opposition to anything that anyone else holds dear." Which would come pretty close to precluding all thought, thus dragging everyone down to your mental level. Nice try. Oh, you didn't forget to say "broad brush." You are so predictable.


Remains: get help

And why again do you come here if you have to put up with such allegedly mentally defective people as myself?

I understand that people don't like to be called bigots to their face.  But, really, I'm doing you a favor.  Now that you've been shown your fault, you can work to correct it.  Acknowledgement of reality is the first step towards healing.  Please, get some help.  There are many

good, quality counselors

out there.


To be fair...

Did you know that social conservatives give more to charity than any other political group, even more than other conservatives?

That's based on the work of Arthur Brooks, who didn't deal with "social conservatives." He dealt with "religious conservatives." His work shows that the "religious" part, not the "conservative" part, accounted for the greater giving--religious liberals gave the same time and money to charity as religious conservatives (there's just a lot more of the latter). When one removed religion from the equation, secular liberals were far more likely to give than secular conservatives, who were, in fact, the least charitable group in the U.S. (And, in any case, if one includes the aid to the poor offered through government at the insistence of liberals, the conservative contribution becomes almost microscopic in comparison, which is a basic error in Brooks' work).

There are excellent reasons to be opposed to fundamentalist Christianity.

I think the earlier poster made one of the most common basic errors, there; he attributed a political movement overwhelmingly made up of "fundamentalist Christians" with "fundamentalist Christians" themselves. The backwards, essentially totalitarian character of this movement is a consequence of its politics, not its religion. The religious right uses religion as a rationale for policies they support for reasons that have little or no basis in religion. It's very rare, for example, to find someone on the religious right who isn't vehemently--almost obsessively--fixated on the state instituting prayers in public schools, yet Jesus explicitly condemned that sort of behavior in no uncertain terms. Christians are called to help the poor; there isn't a single program to help the poor which those on the religious right aren't dead-set on dismantling. And  so on. The religious right is not a religious movement; it's a political movement that cloaks itself in religion.


Well, unsurprisingly, your entire post is cloaked in a great deal of liberal stereotyping of evangelical Christians.  I gotta ask, do you even know any?  Do you count any as close friends?  I gotta know, because your stereotypes are downright dehumanizing, and I find it hard to believe that you would refer to any of your actual friends with these kinds of terms.

About charity: It's not charity if it's someone else's money.  Jesus instructed his followers to be givers because he wanted to transform their hearts into those of givers.  It really wasn't about the money itself.  To call government programs instituted at the insistence of liberals "charity" is a mockery of the word.  In fact, government welfare is the very opposite - not only does it not transform taxpayers into givers (Jesus' intent for charity), but it does transforms recipients into entitlement-seeking takers.  This is what evangelical Christians understand, and this is what you fail to understand.  So this is the essence of the religious objection to government welfare.

But in the liberal stereotype, because evangelical Christians don't open up their pocketbook and support every welfare scheme dreamed up by liberals, they are filthy hypocrites.  This is what continues to amaze me about liberals' treatment of evangelical Christians.  Among the vast majority of liberals I know in person, they are sincerely concerned about helping their fellow man.  But these same people are unwilling to recognize the good that religious conservatives do in helping the poor as well.  Instead they trash their efforts.  I am continually amazed by those on the left who preach "tolerance" at every turn and then become the very first to sharpen their claws when it comes to the topic of evangelical Christians.  I can only chalk it up to bigotry, because IMO it is completely irrational.

And please, the issue of school prayer is largely dead.



EV,  I imagine that you disapprove of atheists and I suspect you detest liberals. Please explain why this does not make you an "anti-atheist bigot" or an "anti-liberal bigot", and as such, why you're any better than me.



Who says he's better than you?

Who says you're better than him?

Why is this a contest of "better"-ness?