January 20, 2007


Conservative core seeks a contender: The right is despairing over its picks so far for a 2008 presidential run. (Mark Z. Barabak, January 20, 2007, LA Times)

For decades, the conservative movement has been the animating force of the Republican Party, providing the ideas and energy that catapulted candidates to the GOP presidential nomination and, often, the White House.

But as conservatives survey the 2008 field -- and, particularly, the early Republican front-runners -- many are despairing. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani have all broken with conservative orthodoxy at one time or another. Many activists have neither forgiven nor forgotten. [...]

"Each of these guys is jostling each other, McCain, Giuliani and Romney, to be dead center of where Reagan was. No one is competing to run as the Nixon Republican, or the Rockefeller Republican," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, which asks every presidential candidate to sign a pledge vowing never to raise taxes. So far, Brownback and Romney have taken the pledge, the latter after declining to do so while Massachusetts governor.

"Strong national defense, individual freedom and responsibility, traditional moral values -- the ideas are still there," said Lee Edwards, a conservative scholar at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. [...]

McCain, whose 2000 rivalry with President Bush lingered long after, has become one of the president's strongest supporters in Iraq and eased his opposition to tax cuts he once deemed excessive. He has signed up conservative activists in Iowa and South Carolina, states he lost in 2000 and, most conspicuously, reached out to religious conservatives -- including the Rev. Jerry Falwell -- whom he once dubbed "agents of intolerance."

Romney, who said he favored abortion rights when he ran for governor in 2002, now describes himself as "firmly pro-life." After once casting himself as a strong supporter of gay rights, Romney has become an outspoken foe of same-sex marriage.

Giuliani, who has favored legal abortion, gay rights and certain gun controls, is expected to stress leadership over ideology if he decides to run.

But many activists remain to be convinced. McCain's support for a friendlier immigration policy continues to rankle -- the National Review dubbed him "Amnesty John" -- as does the campaign-finance law he championed. Earlier this week, Christian leader James Dobson said he would not support McCain under any circumstance. The senator, who has a solid anti-abortion record but opposes a federal ban on same-sex marriage, said he would like to talk.

Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention, suggested that conservatives would eventually support the GOP nominee. "Social conservatives understand in their bones, in their genetic structure, that what's at stake in [2008] is probably the Supreme Court for the rest of their lifetimes," Land said. "I don't see social conservatives sitting this one out."

John McCain isn't just a natural heir to Ronald Reagan but was handpicked by the Gipper, who even worked to get him released from North Vietnam. What confuses the wahoo Right is that the Reagan mantle doesn't cover their ideology.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 20, 2007 9:27 AM

What? Let me get this straight - Reagan knew, in 1973, that not only would he become president but that this prisoner in Vietnam was to be his ideological successor 35 years later?
It's 9:30 in the morning, man. If you're smoking weed this early you have definitely got a problem.

Posted by: Bryan at January 20, 2007 10:05 AM

This may or may not pan out, but my brother has inside information that Sen. Brownback will announce his candidacy today.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 20, 2007 10:27 AM

Who is Brownback?

Posted by: sam at January 20, 2007 1:09 PM

The Rabid Right considers Reagan a conservative only in hindsight. If you want to rile them, just point out Reagan's actual achievements (increased taxes, fiscal irresponsibility, increased federal government, largest illegal amnesty, cut-and-run from Middle East, judges like O'Connor), and then stand back as the mad frothing-at-the-mouth begins. One prominent NRO member's final comment was,"Well, there is spending and there is spending."

The problem with the so-called mainstream conservatives (the rabid part of it) is that they are as much ideologues as the Marxists. Both have trouble putting their ideas into governance, and the response to their failures is that coservatism/Marxism has not been tried in its purest form.

Posted by: at January 20, 2007 1:17 PM

Reagan wasn't president in '73, but he knew McCain had a political future as limitless as his own.

Posted by: oj [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2007 1:47 PM

The Republican coalition is a magnificent beast. It is wonderfully difficult to articulate its ideological coherence, or the nature of the link between that and the pre-ideological instinctive judgments of Middle America.

The NRO, the libertarians, the paleocons... It'll sure be interesting to watch to try to argue against McCain while keeping their idiosyncratic obsessive grudges hidden from the public; then turn around, swallow their pride, and explain the reasons to support him in the general.

If it happens. Fingers crossed.

Posted by: Nathan Smith at January 20, 2007 5:37 PM

That's Mr. Wahoo. Please.

Posted by: AllenS at January 20, 2007 6:40 PM

Orrin, McCain was "released" by the North Vietnamese themselves when they found out his father was Naval Commander.

He refused to go until all the rest were released.

How could Pres. Reagan have played a part in this?

Posted by: Tom Wall at January 20, 2007 7:47 PM


USA Today reported on 16 January 2007 in its Washington Section that the CIA plans to utilize more open sources and blogs in its intelligence work and outsource more of its intelligence software development to commercial contractors in an attempt to re-establish itself as the premiere world intelligence agency.

The "Strategic Intent" is posted on the CIA public web site. Defense Industry Daily further reports that General Electric is gobbling up Smith's Industries for $4.8B.


I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak. Let's look at this for a moment and do our patriotic duty by reading along with the CIA (after all, they have announced they are reading this blog)

1. The new CIA approach comes exactly at the formation of the agency's new "External Advisory Board", which consists of the following:

* A former Pentagon Chairman of the Joints Chief who is now a Northrop Grumman Corporation Board Member

* A deposed Chairman of the Board of Hewlett Packard Corporation (HP)

* A Former Deputy Secretary of Defense who now heads up a Washington think tank with Henry Kissinger

2. Northrop Grumman Corporation and Hewlett Packard are two huge government contractors in the Pentagon and CIA custom software development arena. Their combined contracts with the government just for IT are in the multiples of millions. I wonder what the advisory board is filling the CIA's ear with?

3. Washington "Think Tanks" are fronts for big time lobbies, sophisticated in their operations, claiming non-partisanship, but tremendously influential on K Street. If a lobby cannot buy its way in, why not sit on the advisory board?

4. GE already has the military aircraft jet engine market. In buying Smith's, it takes one more major defense corporation out of the opposition and further reduces the government's leverage through competition. GE now joins the other monoliths such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon with tremendous leverage in the $500B +++ per year defense market.

5. Note the synergy that now exists between the Pentagon and the CIA. Note the influence by the major corporations.

6. Also note the balance in your bank account and your aspirations for the generations of the future. Both are going down.

7. The huge Military Industrial Complex (MIC) continues to march. Taxes and national debt will be forced to march straight up the wall to support it. Do you have any "Intelligence" to offer the Pentagon, the CIA and the MIC? For further inspiration please see:


Posted by: Ken Larson at January 20, 2007 8:24 PM


The Reagans were very active in publicizing the plight of the POWs and when McCain got back Reagan invited him to the prayer Breakfast that started his political career. Nancy even hired the first Mrs. McCain, who she'd become friends with, to work in the administration--if I recall correctly. McCain is a Reagan baby.

Posted by: oj [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2007 11:53 PM

Nathan's observations are well taken.

Conservatism, being the absence of ideology, puts forth a coalition of voters rather than of coalition of factions. The key to its success, when it is successful, lies in the conservative principle of deference.

It is essential to its continued good fortune that its constitutent parts defer to one another within their partners' domains of interest.

Gun people come away with our guns and throw our vote behind live babies, and expect reciprocity. Advocates of robust foreign policy approve of ownership restorations, not because of individual commitment to libertarian economics, but because we trust those for whom such concerns are paramount to keep faith with us.

The key here is the political maturity to accept that if we do not hang together we shall surely be fed to the lions separately.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 21, 2007 11:11 AM