President Obama’s State of the Union address was nothing new. The President continued the same leftist rhetoric he used during his inaugural address, calling for even more spending and government. As Jason wrote, he absurdly claimed that he has CUT spending, attacked the sequestration plan that he himself proposed, and called for an increase in the minimum wage would would prove disastrous to job creation. In short, it was more of the same - big government, high taxes, and spending money we don’t have.
The official Republican response was fairly lackluster. Marco Rubio is a gifted speaker, but his speech was big on platitudes and slogans and small on substance. The real response came from Senator Rand Paul. It’s no secret that Senator Paul is a favorite of mine and of many libertarian-leaning folks, so there was much anticipation that he would offer a clear vision apart from both Obama and Rubio. For the most part, he did just that.
To begin, Paul went strongly after the President and laid out a clear idea of what he believes America is really all about:
Tonight, the President told the nation he disagrees. President Obama believes government is the solution: More government, more taxes, more debt.
What the President fails to grasp is that the American system that rewards hard work is what made America so prosperous.
What America needs is not Robin Hood but Adam Smith. In the year we won our independence, Adam Smith described what creates the Wealth of Nations.
News broke over the weekend that Karl Rove was launching a new PAC aimed at helping establishment Republicans defeat conservatives in primary races. As I explained yesterday, this move is tantamount to declaring war on grassroots fiscal conservatives.
Based on the formation of this new PAC, the absurdly named “Conservative Victory Project,” Rove obviously wishes that Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio hadn’t have won their primary battles, in which they were pitted against more establishment candidates.
Yesterday, Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, responded to Rove’s new PAC in a statement, noting that the “Empire is striking back.”
“Imagine a Republican Party without the leadership, energy and principled ideas coming from Senators like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Pat Toomey and Mike Lee, because that is what you would get from a lack of real primary race competition now being proposed by Karl Rove,” said Kibbe. “The choice is simple: should voters choose who represents them in Washington, DC, or should political insiders make the decision behind closed doors?”
Echoing Ronald Reagan’s words of “rais[ing] bold colors, not pale pastels,” Kibbe noted that a watered down vision will not lead the Republican Party to electoral success. “We believe that good ideas, compelling candidates, and open competition are the only way to rehabilitate the GOP,” explained Kibbe, “and the diverse group of compelling young leaders our grassroots community has helped bring to Congress speaks for itself.”
If there was one theme that was found throughout the Republican convention last week, it was this: America is awesome and everything would be great if only our guys were in power. Now, this is certainly not a new idea. It is common for partisans to see their opposition as the source of all our societal ills. But in the Republicans’ case, this is amplified into the concept of “American exceptionalism,” the idea that America is not only a great nation, but one that is uniquely blessed and, thus, obligated to spread freedom throughout the globe.
Now, this would be one thing if it were just a bunch of overblown nationalism. Pride in one’s country is perfectly fine, of course, but the concept of American exceptionalism takes that to an even further extreme, arguing that the normal rules don’t apply to the US and we have a special role unique in history. It is an attitude that causes one to overlook America’s numerous failings and sins, and to excuse actions that, if undertaken by another nation, we could rightly condemn. It is a worldview that calls anyone who questions it unpatriotic and part of the “blame America first” crowd.
Last week, I went to Tampa for the Republican National Convention in Tampa. This was sort of an odd experience for me, being a libertarian and all. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve been to conventions and conferences before. The oddest experience was BlogCon in Denver last November, when the local Occupiers showed up to protest us. But the RNC was a much, much larger scale event.
Tropical Storm Isaac: While I understand why Republicans saw fit to scale back events for Monday, the storm really didn’t do much to the Tampa area. It rained some, but it wasn’t near what everyone was expecting. Truth is Republicans could have gotten away with more than gaveling the convention to order. By the time the storm actually hit, everyone was more concerned with what could happen to New Orleans and the rest of Gulf Coast than Tampa.
Grassroots v. the Establishment: Over at FreedomWorks, Dean Clancy has put together a great synopsis of the fight over the new rules implemented, which won’t start until the 2016 process. We went over some of this earlier last week, but at this point many grassroots activists are disenfranchised. Many Ron Paul supporters who attended the RNC as delegates may now be looking for an alternative come November because of the rules changes.
Rule 12 would allow the Republican National Committee to change the rules if 3/4 approve. As Clancy explains, “The new Rule 16 requires that a delegate who attempts to violate his binding pledge to a candidate under state law or state party rules shall be deemed to have resigned and the Secretary of the Convention must record the improper vote as it should have been cast based on state law or party rule.”
As a libertarian, it has been puzzling to watch how conservatives have reacted to the foreign policy of Barack Obama. In almost every tangible way, Obama’s policies have been a continuation of his predecessor’s. In fact, in some ways he has been even more aggressive - amping up the mission in Afghanistan, involvement in Libya, and increased drone attacks (including against American citizens). Yet the right continues to pretend that the Obama administration has been “weak” on national defense.
This debate has reached an even greater level of absurdity in recent weeks as Obama has used the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing to tout his foreign policy successes. Obama has even attempted to argue that Mitt Romney would not have ordered the killing (more than a bit far-fetched in my humble opinion). Conservatives, on the other hand, have tried to minimize the significance of the event and find any way possible to not give Obama credit for it, when surely they would have praised George W. Bush.
And while military spending has not been cut at all under Obama, conservatives are still arguing that he is somehow short-changing the Pentagon. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma went as far as to claim Obama is “gutting” the military in recent comments regarding President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan early this week:
“Clearly this trip is campaign-related,” [Inhofe] said. “We’ve seen recently that President Obama has visited college campuses in an attempt to win back the support of that age group since he has lost it over the last three years. Similarly, this trip to Afghanistan is an attempt to shore up his national security credentials, because he has spent the past three years gutting our military.”
On Wednesday, Senator Marco Rubio outlined his vision for American foreign policy in a speech to the Brookings Institution in Washington. Suffice to say, it is a vision that will have more appeal to Bill Kristol than to Ron Paul. Rubio calls for more involvement in the world, more foreign aid, and more intervention. After reading Rubio’s speech, it is clear that he has not learned anything from the past decade and the foreign policy mistakes of the Bush43 and Obama Administrations.
Rubio first outlines his globalist agenda:
I always start by reminding people that what happens all over the world is our business. Every aspect of our lives is directly impacted by global events. The security of our cities is connected to the security of small hamlets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Our cost of living, the safety of our food , and the value of the things we invent, make and sell are just a few examples of everyday aspects of our lives that are directly related to events abroad and make it impossible for us to focus only on our issues here are home.
Rubio of course forgets that the 9/11 plot was hatched in the parts of Afghanistan that were under the control of a government, the Taliban.
No foreign policy speech in America would be complete without the prerequisite China bashing:
Late last week on CBS This Morning, John McCain was asked about the eventual GOP Vice Presidential nominee. He said, jokingly, “I think it should be Sarah Palin.”
After that comment he followed up with a line about how we have great talent in the GOP and that he’s sure Romney will make the right decision in the end. In the video of the interview, it’s clear that McCain was joking, but how much of a joke was it?
When McCain selected Palin as his running mate, she was a mostly (nationally) inexperienced politician whose presence on the ticket was to excite the Republican base and to pander to a demographic group (women) that the GOP needed to appease in order to win the election.
After the joke about Palin, McCain was quick to mention Florida Senator Marco Rubio as a qualified candidate who is in the top tier of potential running mates for Mitt Romney, but what kind of a choice would that be? At first glance, it could look pretty good, but compare the similarities between Rubio and Palin.
Rubio would be a nationally inexperienced politician whose presence on the ticket would be to excite the Republican base (Tea Party) and to pander to a demographic group (Hispanic voters) that the GOP needs to appease in order to win the election.
Rubio getting the VP slot on the ballot wouldn’t shock many people, and I’d speculate that it could even be a safe bet. Still, when you consider the reasons for picking Rubio to the reasons for picking Palin in 2008, you can’t help but wonder if the Republican Party has learned anything in the last four years.
It’s been an interesting CPAC this year. Before the conference even started it was embroiled in controversy over the participation of gay conservative group GOProud. Several organizations pulled out of the conference, but few of them were regular participants anyway. The most high profile and only real loss was The Heritage Foundation. Rumors are that their refusal to participate this year was not over GOProud, but due to a financial dispute with the American Conservative Union—the organization behind CPAC. Regardless of the dispute before then conference, GOProud seems to be getting a good reception from attendees.
The big surprise yesterday was Donald Trump. Trump showed up yesterday afternoon to a fairly responsive crowd, but quickly digressed into a fight over Ron Paul with a heckler. Considering the room was stacked with Paulie’s waiting to hear Rand Paul, that was NOT a smart move. No one seems to be taking Trump for President seriously. Rand Paul did a really good job. He seems to have more charisma than his father.
Speaking of presidential candidates, Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico, looks like he’s gearing up for a run. Johnson has a booth and professional campaign consultants wandering around. He actually gave a good speech yesterday, but is still considered a long, long, long shot candidate. Johnson’s biggest obstacle is his drug policy (he supports the legalization of marijuana) and he will have a hard time getting traditional Republican primary voters to buy into him because of it.
Mitt Romney spoke earlier today and got a very tepid response from the crowd. The ballroom was only three quarters of the way full, and he largely skipped over the health care issue which did not go unnoticed. The fake Sarah Palin was a bigger hit than Mitt.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010 will be recorded in the history books as one of the most historic and tumultuous in the annals of American politics. Just two short years after a relative political neophyte named Barack Obama swept across the political landscape, winning the presidency, increasing Democrat majorities in the House and Senate, and driving out record numbers of youth and minorities to the polls with his steady mantra of “Hope and Change”, it seems some of the luster has faded.
Indeed, it is precisely because America saw little hope in their smooth-talking but results-deficient president that they turned on him and his party resoundingly. Even up to Election Day he was rallying the Democrat troops, and Speaker Pelosi was proclaiming that Democrats would retain control of the House, yet the rest of America had seen the writing on the wall for months. As it turned out, the American people had placed their hope in changing the balance of power.
With a smattering of races across the country still too close to call and undergoing recounts, here is what we know. The Republican Party has picked up at least 61 seats in the House, giving them their largest majority there since 1946, and five in the Senate, rendering Democrats impotent in any attempts to ram through any more controversial legislation. Republicans have picked up nearly a dozen governorships, including Michigan and Pennsylvania. The state legislatures in North Carolina and Alabama have turned Republican for the first time since the end of the War Between the States. This was part of the 11-state pick-up for Republicans of state legislatures.
This historic Republican wave ended the tenure of some of the longest serving Democrats, including Ike Skelton (elected in 1976), John Spratt (1983), Paul Kanjorski (1982), Rick Boucher (1982) and Russ Feingold (1992).
“Last night was devastating, no question.” - MoveOn.org
The dust is still settling on last night’s returns. We’re going to hear a lot of analysis over the mid-terms and what it means for both the new majority for House Republicans, Democrats that survived in both chambers and President Barack Obama.
As it currently stands, Republicans gained over 60 seats in the House and six in the Senate. They also picked up at least nine governerships and 19 state legislatures. The states where the GOP made significant gains make up a chunk of the electoral college.
Keith Olbermann and others can deny it all they want, it was a historic night. Newt Gingrich, who was behind the Republican Revolution in 1994, is calling last night “a more decisive repudiation” than what President Bill Clinton faced. The Republican Party will enter the 112th Congress with their largest majority since 1928, during the Hoover Administration, and the largest pick-up for either party since 1948.