2007 June 12 Tuesday
Derbyshire Looks At Presidential Candidates
John Derbyshire answers questions on the 2008 Republican Presidential candidates.
DG: In your commentary on National Review Online, you often, at least indirectly, allude favorably to the GOP frontrunner, Rudy Giuliani. What are your thoughts on the mayor? Do you believe he is an acceptable presidential choice for conservatives?
JD: Yes, I like Rudy. He’s an arrogant, ruthless son of a bitch, a power-hungry bully with a mean streak the width of the Asteroid Belt. I like that in a presidential candidate. Ronald Reagan gave me a lifetime’s supply of sappy uplift delivered with actor-school Throaty Voice No. 5. Poppy Bush convinced me that affectless managerialism can do nothing to advance conservative interests. Bill Clinton proved that boomers are scum, as if it needed proving. Bush Jr. I looked forward to as an empty suit with an empty head, but basically sound instincts—patriotic and so on—who would do a lot of nothing, nothing being the thing I most wanted my president to do at that point. Well, see how that worked out. Let’s try the son of a bitch.
I would gladly put up with large doses of sappy uplift if it was delivered by a President who was deeply realistic and pragmatic. Spout platitudes galore while governing with a brutally accurate model of human nature. Placate the people who want to hear happy talk but make decisions based on accurate appraisals of reality.
As for Rudy Giuliani: I suspect he's not smart enough for the job. Also, I don't see compelling signs that he's be all that conservative. Plus, Guiliani's response to Tancredo in a debate suggests he's wrong on immigration:
MR. GIULIANI: No, I’m very uncomfortable with it. I mean, the reality is, it’s one thing to be debating illegal immigration. It’s a very complex subject. I think we’ve had a very good debate about it. And I think the bill needs to be fixed in the way that I’ve indicated. But we shouldn’t be having a debate about legal immigration.
Derb's own position on immigration would serve as a useful litmus test for all Republican Presidential contenders:
DG: Every single GOP presidential contender not named McCain has voiced opposition to McCain’s immigration bill. What sort of immigration legislation would you prefer the GOP candidates to spearhead?
JD: First and foremost, I want a president who will vigorously enforce current laws against illegal entry and visa over-stayers. Then I’d like to see legislation to (A) abolish EOIR —deportation first, due process later, (B) end chain migration—spouse and dependent children only, (C) end birthright citizenship, and (D) set very low numbers, and very high standards, for settlement. We need another 40-year pause, like the one from 1924 to 1965, so we can get some assimilation done.
Of course, even worse than Giuliani on immigration is McCain and Derb sees this clearly:
DG: Which Republican presidential candidate would you LEAST like to see win the nomination? Are there any candidates who would make you consider voting Democratic, or perhaps for a third-party candidate in the general election?
JD: John McCain, just for his blinkered stupidity on immigration. I can’t actually imagine voting Democratic, even in a Gravel-McCain matchup. I can imagine not voting, though, and I can certainly imagine voting for a Third Party candidate. I’m a conservative. The GOP is not really, most of the time, a very conservative party. It’s only that once in a while they will throw a bone to conservatives, while the Dems never will. I feel no strong loyalty to the GOP—a thing that sometimes gets me into trouble at National Review. A real conservative, of proven executive ability and clear principles, running on a Third Party ticket, would get my vote. Alas, no-one comes to mind.
Bring back Eisenhower. He's got the best track record on immigration of any President in the last 60 years at least. Anyone know any magic spells for bringing people back from the dead? Short of magic Tom Tancredo is our best bet on immigration.
The Republicans face one really big problem with the 2008 election: Iraq. If they were wise (which they aren't) they'd let the Democrats force a US withdrawal real soon. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 61% of Americans think the Iraq war was not worth fighting. But any Republican Presidential candidate faces the problem that 37% of mostly Republicans still think the war was a good idea. If a Republican supports continuation of the war and manages to win the Republican party's nomination then that candidate will carry that war support as a burden in the general election.
For the general election the Republicans need a candidate who claims he wants to drastically cut back on troops in order to force the Iraqis to fight their own civil war.
"Anyone know any magic spells for bringing people back from the dead?"
Maybe there are some Haitian's immigrants who coul...
Oh, forget I said anything.
The 2008 election is shaping up to be a replay of 1968. At that time, the US was mired in the Vietnam conflict, a war which had been sold to the American people by a string of lies. Thousands of Americans were dying every year, yet the war had become clearly unwinnable. Johnson, the principal architect of this disaster, saw his popularity tank and would not even run for reelection. His hand-picked successor, Hubert Humphrey, was a liberal who disliked the war but was reluctant to go against his president, so he made lots of waffling statements which amounted to nothing. The Republican candidate, Nixon, a hawk with strong anti-communist credentials, had a lot more room to maneuver than Humphrey. Yet all he talked about was his "secret plan" to end the war - except there really was no "secret plan." Nixon could have declared the war lost and pulled out shortly after becoming president in 1969, yet he escalated the conflict, costing thousands more American lives. The end result was dismally predictable. The US eventually pulled out, a Democratic Congress cut off support, the weak, corrupt South Vietnamese regime collapsed and the Communists took everything.
Fast forward to 2008, and the situation looks eerily similar. The US is stuck in a hopeless, unwinnable war in Iraq. If the US pulls out, the weak, corrupt Iraqi regime will collapse, setting off a civil war and perhaps a general "all-against-all" Middle East war. Oil prices could skyrocket, causing a global recession. The principal architect of this disaster, Bush II, has seen his popularity plummet. Deep down, the Republican candidates for president mostly don't like the war but also don't want to appear unsupportive of their president. Yet the Democrats have their own problems with it. Hillary and Edwards joined a majority (29 of 50) of Senate Democrats in voting for the resolution authorizing the war, and now they're twisting in the wind. Hillary especially has problems - as a liberal Democrat and woman, she is perceived by much as the electorate as inherently "weak" and "soft" on anti-terrorism/national security issues. If she gets in, she will have a tough time dealing with this. So none of the candidates from either party really have much of a coherent plan for the Iraq mess. As you (RP) say, if the Republicans were really smart, which they aren't, they would passively allow the Democrats in Congress to pull the plug on Iraq and then blame them for the resulting disaster (unfairly, perhaps, but that's politics).
Whoever gets elected in 2008 is doubly screwed:
1) They have to deal with getting out of Iraq and getting blamed for the results.
2) They have to deal with the fiscal crisis as the Baby Boomers start retiring.
The Republicans and Democrats should be competing to lose, not to win.
Exactly. In 1928, popular President Calvin Coolidge stunned the nation by saying, "I do not choose to run (for reelection)". He could have won easily, yet he saw what was coming and did not wish to be blamed for it (stock market crash/great depression). The situation today is the same. The Middle East is about to explode, and the US is headed for some tough economic times. If Bush II cared at all about the Republican party, which he obviously doesn't, he would get US troops out of Iraq prior to the 2008 election so that issue would be off the table. He could also leave the controversial immigration issue to be decided by the next election. Instead, his legacy will be one of failure - fiscal catastrophe, chaos in the Middle East, plus, if he gets his way, an immigration disaster.
RP - I don't get it... why haven't YOU latched onto Ron Paul yet?? I feel like I understand what your general political perspective is, and he seems like a perfect fit.
Ron Paul is:
1) strongly anti-war (voted against several times) while being strong on defense (former AF officer)
2) strongly anti-immigration... he HAS voted against your hated immigration bill, and agrees quite closely with the general Parapundit opinions on this
3) the smartest guy running for president (he's an M.D.) and obviously knows how to react intelligently under pressure.
4) he shares your initials
please explain??? it is very obvious why the mainstream media is against him (only true anti-war candidate) but why are you... am I missing something?
thanks in advance for you response
I'd be happy to vote for Ron Paul too.
I consider immigration to be more important than any other issue because we can always change our minds about a large number of things. But once we've changed the nation's demographics then we are stuck with the result for a very long time. Tom Tancredo makes immigration his biggest issue. So he's my top choice. But I'd be happy with any candidate who wants to deport all the illegals and cut back on legal immigration and raise the quality of legal immigrants.