My good friend Bookworm has a post today that explores a vital question...how far should conservatives go when it comes to attacking GOP primary candidates?
As she points out:
As the primary season heats up, here’s a good question to ask: If we want to end the primary season with a viable political candidate to face off against Barack Obama, are there limits limits to the nature of the attacks that bloggers launch against the Republican candidates during this primary season?
My take is that it is very important for us to learn as many facts as possible about the candidates, whether we’re learning good things or bad. However, I’m not yet ready to leap up and castigate any candidate as the devil incarnate. (Even Ron Paul, whom I would not like to see win, can be challenged through facts, not hyperbolic insults.)
As we learned in 2008, there are no perfect Republican candidates. Unfortunately, the other lesson we’ve learned in the last 2.5 years is that Obama is a perfectly scary Democrat president/candidate. This means that, when the Republican primary ends, we need the last Republican candidate still standing to have the strength to face off against Obama. If we inflict too many wounds against our own people, the primary winner may be so weakened, s/he cannot win the final, presidential battle. Further, if s/he’s bleeding badly from the ideological wounds we inflict, Independents will shy away, as they will almost certainly be incapable of discerning between the wounds inflicted during internecine conflict from the type of fatal flaws that spell death at the presidential polls.
As of today, I can easily say yucky things about every one of the Republicans now seeking office (especially Ron Paul):
(1) Michele Bachmann has no more executive experience than Obama did at this stage in the game, and we all rightly predicted that he was grossly unprepared for high executive office;
(2) Paul Ryan, should he weigh in, will also lack that experience, plus he’s got a geeky quality that might not play well in the media;
(3) Mitt Romney has the RomneyCare albatross and all the charm (and good looks) of a Ken doll;
(4) Ron Paul takes libertarianism to an inhuman extreme that includes jettisoning the nation of Israel and supporting Iran’s quest for nuclear arms;
(5) Rick Perry tried to strong-arm Gardasil, whether because of fear of cancer, ties with Merck, power lust, or something else, plus he’s kind of smarmy;
(6) Chris Christie, should he weigh in, has sharia ties, offends people with his outspokeness, and will have to fight the fat-taboo that governs in America.
While I certainly concur, my own take on this is somewhat different.
Today in Memeorandum, the first 13 stories are anti-Perry pieces and the next 3 are anti Bachmann pieces, put out by outlets like the NYT, CNN and what I'll call the Soros media ( Think progress, Steve Benen in the Washington Monthly, Right Wing Watch, etc.). This stuff is being co-ordinated from the White House and it's going to be like that for the next 14 months.
As far as I'm concerned, the three major candidates, Perry , Bachmann and Romney all have their flaws ( none of the others have a shot at getting the nomination) but the next election isn't going to be about them. It's going to be about the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama. That's why anyone who gets the nomination or looks like they might is going to be demonized. As I've said in print before, if the GOP ran Daffy Duck as the nominee, I'd probably vote for him over Obama.
2008 isn't really a good example, since we ended up with a candidate whose relationship with most of his own party was largely one of mutual and intense dislike and whom ran one of the most inept campaigns in modern memory, awash with self-inflicted wounds. The only reason John McCain even managed to get within six points of a qualifications challenged candidate like Barack Obama was his gritting his teeth and picking Sarah Palin as his running mate.
Yes, we ought to vet the candidates, but our chief task, as I see it, is getting this sorry excuse for a president and a man out of the White House, retaining the House and taking the Senate with a conservative majority.
In terms of executive experience, all three major candidates could be slimed a bit - Romney accomplished little except RomneyCare, Rick Perry was governor of the weakest executive branch in the 50 states and had comparatively little decision making power, and Michelle Bachmann has never run a government entity. In fact, Governor Palin or Rudy Giuliani would be the strongest choices if we're looking for a record of executive experience and accomplishment, and neither is in the race yet.
But each of the three have at least accomplished things in life outside of government and run something. To me the central issue is the quality of their instincts and their moral character, because the rest you can hire out. That's what we ought to be focused on, in my opinion.
Character is what kicks in when you're called on to make the tough decisions. And that's a major part of the equation of leadership, something this country has been literally starved of for a long time.