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Back to Basics Time for American Conservatism

First, some perspective on the Iowa Caucus from Rick Moran at RightWingNuthouse:

Having lived in Iowa for 7 years, I would say that there is nothing much wrong with the people as much as the process of choosing a Caucus winner. It virtually guarantees an extraordinarily small group of people can have an enormous impact on the choice of a candidate for president.

Iowa has about 600,000 registered Republicans. Mike Huckabee got 39,000 votes. That’s about 8% of Iowa Republicans choosing a man who will now seriously compete for the GOP nomination.

Got that? 8% of one State’s registered Republicans voted for a candidate and now people are freaking out. There is something seriously wrong with people who want to call that a “victory” and now say that Mike Huckabee is riding a wave of political support to the Republican nomination for President in 2008.

8% of 600,000 Republicans voted for Mike Huckabee. Please explain to me how that result constitutes a ringing endorsement of a candidate. Please explain to me why 39,000 people in Iowa seem to dictate how the Republican nomination process will go.

I just don’t get it.

Anyway, some political bloggers and pundits are now hyperventilating at the prospect of a Mike Huckabee nomination and, because of that, are now throwing aside their principles (if they have any) and focusing on who do we support to make sure Mike Huckabee does not get the nomination??!!??’ Simply amazing how 39,000 people in Iowa have so much power over the actions of the rest of the nation’s Republican voters, huh?

Oy.

I prefer to focus on principles and values and specifically, Conservatism. I prefer to focus on voting FOR something, rather than against something or someone. I don’t like the fact that the Republican base seems to have taken on the strategy of the 2004 Democrat voters who used the “ANYBODY BUT BUSH!” strategy to try to win. Now, it seems, Republican voters are doing the same thing. First, they supported Rudy Giuliani, because they had the strategy of “ANYBODY BUT HILLARY!” And now, after they see 39,000 people in Iowa pledge their support for Mike Huckabee, Republican voters are in a panic and have decided on the strategy of “ANYBODY BUT HUCKABEE!”

I’m sorry, but being against something is not inspiring. It was not inspiring when the Democrats used it in 2004 and it is even less inspiring when I see Republican voters having that mentality now.

Which leads me to Rush Limbaugh today, who, instead of talking about ‘ooh! ooh! Which RINO are we going to support now to derail Mike Huckabee??!!??, he turned the focus back to Conservatism:

Folks, as far as conservatism is concerned, it’s back-to-basics time here. It looks to me, and it’s tough to make assessments here after one state has had its caucus, it may be even tough to make a seasoned analysis after even New Hampshire because New Hampshire and Iowa are both very liberal states. We’re going to get into the turnout, the nature of who voted, why the turnout was so large, the demographic breakdown because a lot of it is fascinating. But just looking at things after Iowa, it looks to me like many in the Republican Party, despite all their yearning for conservatives in Washington, are rejecting conservatism. I say that with all seriousness. It may change once we get out of these more liberal states, but with Huckabee and McCain leading in New Hampshire — look, they’re fine guys. I don’t want what I’m saying here to be interpreted as criticism. These are just observations. But with Huckabee and McCain leading in New Hampshire, they’re not consistent principled conservatives. Now, you may be saying, “So what, Rush, conservatism is old, it doesn’t matter, and Reagan was Reagan, and it’s gone,” and I understand that about Reagan, but I don’t accept that about conservatism. I’m not going to accept it.

New Hampshire will be influenced by independents who can vote in the Republican primary. It’s going to be an advantage for McCain, as it was for him the last time. I’m struck by the fact that conservatives call this program — and you know who you are — you have been calling this program for four years, complaining about the lack of a conservative in the White House. You’ve been complaining about the lack of conservative behavior and governance on the part of elected Republicans in both the House and the Senate. So I know you’re out there. You definitely want conservatism, but there’s something troubling out there. You seem to be rejecting it at the same time. Some people do. I don’t mean all of you in this audience. One of the things that I picked up watching all the various networks last night and listening to the candidates is that populism seems to be just soaring. Candidates with a populist message, not conservative, but a populist message are just soaring. Obama with a clear populist message in his speech last night. Obama is as liberal as Mrs. Clinton, if not more so. And that’s saying something.

Governor Huckabee: clearly populism. It was a great speech he gave last night. I’m not taking anything away from him, very articulate, very personnel personable, relaxed. He connects with his audience. It’s very crucial. He doesn’t talk over anybody’s head, doesn’t talk at them. He really makes connections. Now, the thing that bothers me about populism, though, as it relates to conservatism, there is this continuing refrain that there is economic insecurity, that it is widespread, that there is terrible angst, and people are at their wits’ end, particularly in the middle class, over their economic future. I happen to disagree with just how widespread the economic problems are, but I don’t disagree that there is angst. I don’t disagree that there’s some people that are feeling pressured and insecure about their economic future. I don’t deny that at all, but I’d like to find out why rather than just react to it. This does not make me a patrician — well, according to Susan Estrich it might. It’s amazing the evolution that the libs have assigned to me since I started in 1980. Now I’m a George W. Bush, a George H. W. Bush patrician, I’m an elitist looking down. It’s just amazing how I have gone through this evolution as far as they’re concerned.

But let me stick to this angst business. We had the Pew poll the other day on New Year’s Eve, 84% of the American people very satisfied with their individual lives, at the same time 70% of the people think the country is going in the wrong direction. This is easily, to me, explainable. Eighty-four percent of the people, a clear majority, by the way, of the 84% are very satisfied with their lives and feel good about their futures. So where does this angst come from? Well, the angst comes from, I believe, the media. As I commented yesterday, there is no such thing as good news allowed in the American media today, and particularly as the Drive-Bys are doing everything they can to get Republicans out of office and Democrats in; and, of course, making people believe the economy is in the tank is one of the key ways that they hope to be able to accomplish this. We could have news today that cancer has been cured and the Drive-Bys would put four experts, four examples of how this may be bad news. Iraq deaths, Iraq citizen deaths practically came to a screeching halt. How did the Drive-Bys report it? The funeral business in Iraq is hitting tough times. It’s this kind of thing, and this happens daily multiple times in this country regarding your children’s health and their future and their obesity, the economy and the subprime market and the crisis and the credit crunch and the housing markets and all of these things.

So it is what it is. And if people feel the angst, the angst is real. And so if there is a lot of economic uncertainty among American conservatives — and we know the liberals are pessimistic by nature. We know that liberals get up as pessimists, they go to bed as pessimists, and in between they’re mad as hell all the time. But this is not the characteristic of conservatives, but sadly it seems to be coming to that, which troubles me greatly. We live in the greatest country on Earth. When there are economic ups and downs, which there are, and some of you may think that there are bad times down the road, and maybe at present we’re in the midst of them, or you are, in your personal circumstances. The conservative attitude and mentality about this is not to look to a human being running for president for solutions. The solution is not getting up every morning and hoping something in Washington happens to change your individual life. I’m asking myself during all of these laments about the angst and the crisis and the insecurity, what happened to good old self-reliance? What happened to the can-do spirit?

What happened to the notion that we live in the greatest country on Earth and there are options, opportunities for prosperity unrivaled on this planet, here in this country? Why the eagerness on the part of seemingly so many conservatives to accept victimhood status? Why the attitude on the part of so many Republicans and conservatives to all of a sudden believe they’re helpless and that only a particular person running for president can fix their circumstances? This is something that is not characteristic of the conservative mind-set, the conservative ideological understanding, and yet it seems to be happening. I can’t deny that it’s happening. So it has to be dealt with. And how is it dealt with? It may be back-to-basics time, folks, in terms of explaining what conservatism is, what it’s not, why it’s important. I must take a break here. We’re going to come back, we’ll start on the Democrat side. I will continue to elaborate on this mini-brilliant monologue as the program unfolds.

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January 4, 2008 , 11:40PM Posted by | 2008 Presidential Election, Conservatism, Fred Thompson, Iowa Caucus, Mike Huckabee, Rush Limbaugh | Comments Off on Back to Basics Time for American Conservatism