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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Is There A Skeptic in the House?

All the talk of needing a new "Reagan" as the GOP presidential nominee misses the essence of what Ronald Reagan's core attitude toward government was - skepticism.

A true conservative is skeptical about the ability of government to cure society's ills and skeptical about the government's ability to restrain itself in exercising its considerable power. President Reagan put it very succinctly in his first inaugural address:
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."
Isn't it this sentiment that is missing from this current field of Republican candidates (excepting boutique candidate Ron Paul)? For example, none express skepticism about the ability of government schools to produce citizens capable of competing in the global economy. Only a few express skepticism regarding global warming, with two candidates openly embracing this unproven theory and the oppressive government controls advocated to "solve" the problem. In general, there seems to be a silent resignation among the candidates that what is will always be when it comes to government, regardless of the wisdom or efficacy of the government's efforts and expenditure of the public wealth.

Among the viable candidates, Fred Thompson obviously stands out as the most outspoken skeptic of government - when he chooses to speak. Unfortunately, Fred hasn't delivered his message with the verve and bite that were needed to break through and has all but fallen out of the race .

Let me posit that there is one other candidate that shows a healthy skepticism regarding government, and that candidate is Rudy Giuliani. In his words and body language, Rudy displays a palpable disdain for government institutions, those who run them, and for the notion that government should be exempted from the sort of reforms that go on in the private sector. Two terms running the city of New York and battling the city's ossified and intractable bureaucracy will probably instill in a person such an attitude.

While certainly not Reaganesque in his views of issues of concern to social conservatives, Giuliani probably comes closest to Reagan's view of government, which the Gipper described dismissively in this classic:
"Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other."
Now that's what I'd like to hear from these candidates, and alone among them, I believe Rudy Giuliani expresses an attitude similar to President Reagan's and does so with credibility.

Update 1:30 PM 1/22/08) : Fred Thompson has dropped out of the race. That puts us right back where we started before he entered - looking for a genuine conservative voice.


Anonymous G-PoK said...

Unless he drops out (which is expected), Thompson doesn't have to be written off yet. There are a lot of conservatives out there who all say they'd prefer Fred Thompson if they thought he had a chance. If all of those people actually supported him, he'd have a chance.

Before it became known that Huckabee has a somewhat liberal record a lot of conservatives said the same about him. As soon as a few Iowans decided to support him, the supporters came out of the woodwork and shot him to #1 nationally. Rudy might be an ok #2 skeptic, but I'm not ready to give up on Fred.

1/22/2008 11:22 AM  
Blogger Thrifty Scot said...

I had hoped that Fred would break through in South Carolina. Even Fred and his people (Rich Galen for one) indicated that a strong showing in SC was vital. I couldn't have been more disappointed.

My anxiety about a McCain or Huckabee nomination is growing stronger - if Fred can't win, then I have to consider other options. It's getting to that point where one feels the need to stop other candidates, as opposed to supporting a candidate. I attended my first caucus in 2000 for the purpose of opposing McCain, which meant supporting GWBush by default. I don't want to give up on Fred, either. But if his candidacy is helping to elect McCain or Huckabee, which I fear it could, then I've got to consider other options.

Rudy might not be the man to stop McCain and Huckabee - if he bombs in Florida, then what? - but he does have the requisite level of skepticism re: govt that I'd like to see from all these guys, and I appreciate that about him.

1/22/2008 11:54 AM  
Blogger Daria said...

I'm with you as far as the need to stop McCain and Huckabee. Fred is the best of field that has any realistic chance to win the nomination though that chance seems to be dimming of late.

That leaves Rudy and Mitt, neither of whom can be classified as movement conservatives. Unfortunately both seem to be overly enamoured with big government. Rudy probably scares me a bit more than Mitt given his self-proclaimed (on Hannity's show) and demonstrated willingness to be "pragmatic" on some social and liberty issues (abortion, gay marriage, sanctuary cities, gun control, etc.). I am at least a little encouaged by Tom Tancredo's assertion that Mitt "gets it" after their meeting.

If the GOP keeps coming up with a different winner in each primary we could end up with a brokered convention where someone like Fred (or maybe even Newt Gingrich or Steve Forbes, as was put forth on a radio show this morning) could ride in out of nowhere and grab the nomination as a consensus compromise choice. The possibility, though slight at best, of this happening greatly depends on whether or not there is a clear overall winner on Super Tuesday.

I could pull the lever for Rudy or Mitt if I had to though not entirely enthusiastically. If it comes down to having to do it for McCain or Huckabee against Mrs. Bill Clinton or Obama it would be a depressing indicator that the Party of Reagan has been lost with little hope of recovery anytime soon.


- D

1/22/2008 12:44 PM  
Blogger Thrifty Scot said...


When I look at Rudy vs. Government, I see his massive tax cut proposal and his credibility on that issue, having been a tax cutter as mayor.

I also see his willingness to take on entrenched liberal interests, having done so as mayor. He also broke the hold that the Mob had on the piers. He seems to get done those tasks that others say can't be done.

But you are right about his "pragmatism" on a variety of issues - it is very troubling and would be hard to swallow in supporting his candidacy.

1/22/2008 1:39 PM  
Blogger Right Hook said...

Looks like the "Fred" option is off of the table.

The primary process is broken if the remaining candidates, from both parties, are the best we can come up with.

Here's hoping for a brokered convention!

1/22/2008 2:05 PM  

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