Jonah Goldberg

One of the most important, yet most frequently violated, laws of punditry is that your own priorities and preferences aren’t always relevant. I would love it if the GOP dedicated itself to cutting government by two-thirds, leaving only a minimal social safety net, a big honking military, and a few other bells and whistles for promoting the general welfare. My ideal ticket in 2008 would have been Cheney-Gramm. That’s right, Dick Cheney and Phil Gramm: two old white guys who would crush our enemies and liberate our economy while shouting, “You kids get off my lawn!” at the filthy hippies who would inevitably accumulate outside the White House like so much bathroom fungus.

But you know what? It’s not about what I want. Gone are the days when a great but uncharismatic president like Calvin Coolidge could get elected because he promised to do as little as possible. (“Perhaps,” he observed, “one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.”) My ideal platform may be right. (If I didn’t think it was, it wouldn’t be my ideal platform, now would it?) But it is surely not popular.

That’s Jonah Goldberg, today, who as usual under-estimates his own reading on things. (I loved the fungus line…)  He goes on to suggest that  until Republicans manage to find someone who will win the ‘I’d like to have a beer with this guy’ contest, we’re not going to be in the White House again.  That certainly is a factor, but I’m unconvinced that it’s all, or even most of it.

welcome_back_carterGiven what we see in politics just now I can’t help but think that in another three and a half years, this view will be quite popular indeed, as the nation wearies from excesses of the Chosen One.

 Consider the historical perspective for a moment. I’ve suggested here in the past and will suggest again in future, that absent the walking disaster that was and is Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan would never have been electable, and particularly to the degree of support he got in both elections.  The expectations on the new president are dependent on the failures of the old… and carter provided us with a small mountain of failures…. which he then proceeded to blame the American people for. With that kind of leadership, the Republicans would have gotten away with offering nearly anything… any of the Republicans in the nomination hunt would have done pretty well, in the general election that cycle.

So it will be with Obama, I suspect. Already the rumblings against Obama, even from those in his own party, have reached  a ground-shaking volume. If what we see just now is of any indication, by the time we get to the election season of 2012,  the movement away from the left will take on the qualities the movement away from Carter did in 1980… that of getting the hell off a sinking ship. The most solid looking flotation device to those people will be someone of real conservative values.

On the other hand if you want to ascribe likability and trust to a candidate, I submit that given the failures we are about to endure as a nation, Republicans would do well to offer up the person who offers the most direct path away from Obama.  Such a person would most certainly attract the already under-represented faction in the Republican party… the grassroots conservatives… as Reagan did… but would also attract those who are somewhat less than committed to conservative principles, but have identified Obama as Carteresque in his foibles.  Again, this calls for someone of true conservative values. Indeed, either way this falls out over the next three and a half years, it seems to me the best way for Republicans to regain their ground is to offer up a true conservative.

Now, admittedly,, all of this assumes no changes in the world around us… that seems a stretch in a world seemingly destined to work against the favor of these United States and it’s people.  There is, after all, the factor of random chance… and chance happenings, can and do define and redefine presidencies… such as what 9/11 showed us.  It’s those factors outside our current view that make any such predictions difficult, but given no changes on the trajectory we’re currently on, what I’ve suggested seems to me the safest prediction of outcome, and the best course for Republicans to proceed along.

I’m sure as Jonah says, he’s speaking to his fears. It’s understandable. But, chin up, Jonah. All we really need to do is stick to our values. Indeed, my biggest fear is we’ll end up pushing another centrist… which will kneecap us for at least the next 2 cycles.  It’s down to the Republican leadership getting, understanding and accepting that message.

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One Response to “The Answer: Stick to Our Values”


  1. The Answer: Stick to Our Values