My Prayer for Republicans

Things have not been going very well for Donald Trump ever since he became the presumptive nominee. Starting with his railings against the “Mexican” judge in the civil suit regarding his so-called Trump University, through the Star of David controversy, his berating of Republican senators who are skeptical of his nomination, and his plummeting poll numbers, it’s understandable why there is a growing movement to stop the Republican party from committing suicide at the convention next week.

Make Trump Great Again

You would think Trump would have learned a few lessons along the way on how to get along with people, but that’s not his character. He can be quite charming in person, we’re told, but there’s little evidence of that charm in his public dealings. Narcissists can get along with people if they believe that will work to their advantage, but if rebuffed, they fall back into their self-centered pattern and denigrate anyone who is perceived not to be completely on “their” team.

Giddyup Loser

During the primaries, Trump continually lashed out at the other candidates for taking money from “special interests” and loudly proclaimed he was self-funding. That claim has been pretty well debunked by now as a lot of the money he spent went into his own enterprises, to be reimbursed later.

Now he has done a complete 180, demanding that the GOP get out there and find donors for him. From accounts I’ve read, he is rather inattentive to this himself and expects others to do that job for him.

Self-Fund Me

Perhaps he can get some advice from another candidate who knows how to raise funds—someone who has been the recipient of a lot of Trump money in the past:

Last Million

GOP operatives are also beside themselves when they look at the lack of organization in the Trump camp. Everything seems to be in disarray. Here’s where that narcissism comes into play again:

Trusted Circle

Why doesn’t he at least find some of those great graduates of Trump University to help out?

Trump U Grads

One of my favorite comic strips of all time was Peanuts. Those classic strips are still run daily on the GoComics site. Lately, they have been showcasing some political campaigning strips. They seem so relevant today.

Campaign Strategy

That’s kind of where some Republicans seem to be right now. They don’t really want to vote for Trump but feel like the alternative—Hillary—is so bad they are down to the last person on earth in this election season.

We even have some Trump supporters telling those of us who cannot vote for him that we are ensuring a Hillary victory. Sarah Palin, for instance, has called people like me a traitor. Yes, she used that very word. Mike Huckabee is scolding us and demanding that we get on board with Trump. Ben Carson is a full apologist for him, even though he sometimes has to admit there’s very little “there” there.

I’m no traitor. I won’t be scolded into doing something that goes against what I believe in. I’m sincerely hoping that Republicans will do the right thing next week:

Wide-Open Convention

That is my prayer.

Gleanings from the Second Debate

I loved the setting of the second Republican presidential debate: the Reagan Library with Air Force One in the background. I was there almost a year ago; it’s an impressive place.

Fourteen Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R), U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, former New York Governor George Pataki, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, businessman Donald Trump, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pose before the start of the second official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, United States, September 16, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTS1HC6

Not as impressive was how CNN conducted the debate. Jake Tapper, the moderator, attempt to be the whole show; the other two questioners, when allowed a stray question or two, were no more than window dressing, virtually non-existent.

It also became evident from the very start that Tapper’s goal was to create as much divisiveness, bitterness, and “good television” as possible by trying to make everyone attack Donald Trump. For CNN, this was just a moment to try to relive its glory years when people actually watched this news channel rather than Fox News.

Overall, reaction to CNN’s ploy has been largely negative.

But enough about CNN. My aim today is to provide whatever analysis I can of the candidates. Let’s get Trump out of the way first, since he has been the headline grabber now for weeks.

His petulance showed immediately. Upon getting his first question, he decided instead to turn to Rand Paul at the far end of the line and tell him that he didn’t deserve even to be on stage with everyone else because of his low poll numbers.

What did that have to do with anything substantive? It was Trump being Trump, annoyed because Paul has been one of his most vocal critics, and he will never let a criticism go without response. His thin skin won’t allow it.

I’m not a Paul supporter, but this was patently unpresidential and rude. Paul’s rejoinder was that Trump was revealing his “sophomoric” attitude. I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps I might change the word to “juvenile” or “childish.”

The most cringeworthy moment was when Trump attempted to walk back his insult of Carly Fiorina’s face by shouting into the microphone that she really is beautiful. The only reaction from the assembled crowd was a groan because it was so obviously a fake comment. Fiorina, for her part, didn’t even look at him and retained her dignity.

Beyond that, when one looks at whatever Trump offered as substance, one might ask, as in the old Wendy’s commercial, “Where’s the beef?” No specifics on foreign policy except to say that he will get along with everyone and will be respected. Putin, apparently, will be so overwhelmed with Trump’s personality that all Russian aggression will cease. I seem to remember that being Obama’s approach in 2008.

Trump wasn’t any better on domestic policy. All we can do is believe grandiose promises that everything will be great once he’s in charge.

Unscientific polls afterwards indicate he was the runaway winner of the debate. Those are the kinds of polls that Ron Paul always won. I don’t recall his presidency.

Let’s go on now to the real candidates. The field, of course, is much too large. How to begin? How about Mike Huckabee’s comment later that he felt like he was waiting in line at the DMV? Huckabee and Scott Walker received the least time to speak than all the rest, yet they are two of the governors who have shown how to be an executive.

Life isn’t fair, right?

Rather than go down the long list and say something about everyone, I would like to provide my view that only candidates with strong conservative/Christian principles be allowed to participate in the next debate. I know, that’s a pipe dream. But given complete dictatorial power, I would immediately suspend the campaigns of Paul, Kasich, Bush, and Christie (and Trump, of course).

Half the Candidates

Ben Carson I put in a special category. He is a wonderful man, thoroughly Christian, with whom I would love to sit down and talk and enjoy his presence. However, I don’t see him as the next president. His answers on minimum wage and foreign policy, for example, are not clearly thought through; I just don’t believe he is ready to be president. Few successful neurosurgeons can make that leap, no matter how pure their intentions and impeccable their character.

For me, that leaves, in alphabetical order, Cruz, Fiorina, Huckabee, Rubio, and Walker. I would love to add Bobby Jindal to that list if he ever breaks out of the lower tier.

Ted Cruz was forceful, as always, and principled in his answers. I don’t doubt his commitment to constitutional concepts and his bravery, shown by his willingness to buck the system and tackle his own Republican leadership. The only down side to Cruz, for me, remains his rather speechified way of talking, as if every answer is an invitation to go into speech mode. I would prefer someone who comes across as more human and less robotic.

Carly Fiorina certainly benefited most from this debate. She was sharp, knowledgeable, and courageous. Many commented that, at times, she seemed to be the real adult in the room. She was the anti-Trump, full of specifics and well informed on all the issues. Regardless of what happens in the future, I will always fondly remember her masterful takedown of Planned Parenthood and the complicity of Democrats in supporting its atrocities.

She was eloquent in her defense of the unborn in a way that few have been. Some have questioned her real views on abortion, but I don’t see how anyone can have said what she said—and with the kind of vehement conviction with which she said it—without her pro-life stance being genuine.

I agree with others who have concluded that she was the standout speaker of the night. Whether that translates into the presidency is still another matter.

Mike Huckabee was, as usual, an effective communicator. I was particularly pleased that he came out and said he would definitely have a litmus test for judges. He called out the hypocrisy of the Democrats who say they have no litmus test when, in reality, they would never vote for a pro-life nominee or anyone with even a hint of constitutional principles.

Huckabee was strong in his condemnation of the Iran deal and how the consequences of that deal can lead to the destruction of Israel and undermine the security of America. He deserves to be heard.

Marco Rubio was, like Fiorina, well versed on the issues and effective at communicating his views, particularly on foreign policy and national security. Even though he damaged himself with conservatives by his dalliance with the Gang of Eight immigration reform plan, he clearly knows we need to tackle that problem, and I believe he has learned a lesson about attempting some sort of comprehensive plan.

The weakest part of Rubio’s evening was his defense of his voting record in the Senate. He’s missed votes, he said, because nothing would have been accomplished by being there since the measures he would have voted for were doomed anyway. My response is that he was elected to represent, so he should be there as the representative of his (my) state whenever possible.

Finally, there is Scott Walker, the candidate who was given the least amount of time to speak. Many have now written Walker off since he doesn’t come across as strong in these forums as others. I think that’s a mistake.

Walker was better this time than in the first debate, but he had to try harder to be heard. He is the only candidate who has come up with specific plans to replace Obamacare and reform the federal government unions. Tapper never asked about those; he was interested only in controversy.

I refuse to dismiss Walker because he has an outstanding record as governor of Wisconsin. He not only has manifested courage in standing up to opponents who wanted to take over the Capitol building and remove him from office, but he has succeeded in getting his reforms through his legislature. In other words, he has been an effective governor.

If conviction and competence were the only factors that Republican voters were to consider, Walker would be the nominee.

I feel like I’ve been writing forever here. I don’t claim any special insight that others haven’t offered, but I hope my thoughts will spark a fresh perspective for some who read these words.

May God extend His mercy to our distraught nation once again as we move forward to make what might be the most crucial political decisions in the history of this nation.

Huckabee, the Iran Deal, & Reality

Mike Huckabee 2Mike Huckabee is being very vocal about the terrible consequences that will flow from this proposed deal with Iran. Both liberals/Democrats and some in his own party have taken him to task for his comments. For the record, here is what he said, in context:

This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven. This is the most idiotic thing, this Iran deal. It should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people. I read the whole deal. We gave away the whole store. It’s got to be stopped.

It was the phrase “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven” that has caused the consternation. The implication was clear; this deal is something Hitler would have approved.

Candidates should be careful not to use the Hitler comparison too often. One must be sure it really applies. In this case, though, I believe it does. The Iranians have made their position perfectly clear: all Jews must die. That’s not merely a sentiment expressed in private; they have boldly declared that goal to the world.

What could be more Hitler-like than that?

Some have accused Huckabee of being desperate, as he lags behind in the polls, and that he only said this to move up his numbers. On the other hand, I am convinced he really means what he says. He has been to Israel countless times—and not only when running for president—and is a genuine friend of that nation, concerned about its future survival. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. In fact, I applaud him for being bold enough to say what needs to be said.

One wishes our administration had the same view. Instead, with this “deal,” Obama and Kerry have pretty much shown their true colors:

Surrender

Personally, I’m convinced both Obama and Kerry are deluded into thinking Iran is a potential ally. This delusion has led to the current deal:

Right Where We Want Him

Their willingness to give up the store, so to speak, is leading us toward nuclear disaster:

Loopholes

Iran’s rhetoric has not changed since this agreement was signed. Its government continues to declare its outright hostility to America and Israel, and even Kerry had to admit some of the billions of dollars to be released to the Iranians could lead to more American deaths. Tell me again: why would we ever want to ratify such a failed piece of diplomacy?

Kerry has said he is “disturbed” by some of the Iranians’ comments, but apparently he’s not disturbed enough to be snapped back to reality. What will it take?

That's Disturbing

Congress needs to take its responsibility seriously. It must defeat this deal with two regimes that cannot be trusted:

History of Deception

Indeed, there is nothing trustworthy about this president or any of his minions.

Republicans Doing It Again?

The Illinois primary is now in the books as a Romney win. This was a significant state; if Santorum had won it, he would have made a major stride toward his goal of reversing the delegate math. As it is, Santorum’s path to the nomination has become virtually . . . well, I was going to say “impossible,” but I don’t want to go quite that far. Nevertheless, the odds are now more against it than a week ago, even if he pulls out Louisiana later this week.

The media, aided by the Romney campaign, played up a comment by Santorum that made it appear he didn’t care about the unemployment rate. We all know how easy it is to pull a phrase out of an entire explanation and twist the intent. That’s what the Romney team did in this case. Santorum’s full statement was “My campaign doesn’t hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates. It’s something more foundational that’s going on.”

Romney should know how a statement can be taken out of context. Remember when he said he wasn’t concerned about the very poor, and the firestorm that created for a while? Well, I knew he meant that the very poor were already being taken care of by current policies, and that he wanted to help everyone. I didn’t criticize him for that. Neither should he and his team have taken a cheap shot at Santorum for his unemployment rate comment. It’s typical campaign dishonesty.

What did Santorum mean? His concern is more broad-based. He sees the overall trend in American society—the destruction of the traditional family, the loss of Judeo-Christian morality, the war for religious liberty, the over-extension of government power, etc.—and realizes these are the root causes of our economic woes. He also has made it clear that if Republicans hang their election hopes on bad economic numbers only, that they will be vulnerable if those numbers change for the better. It’s the difference between being principle-oriented vs. doing whatever is expedient to win a single election cycle.

I will always side with those who understand and promote the basic principles that serve as salt and light for a nation.

What Republicans are now poised to do, by choosing Romney, is to reenact the debacle of former nominees such as Bob Dole and John McCain. I’m also hearing the same refrain as I heard in 2008 when Huckabee continued the race against McCain when it seemed as if he couldn’t win. We were told he needed to withdraw so the party could coalesce around the inevitable nominee. Forgive me, but I still believe Huckabee would have been the better candidate. McCain’s campaign was dreadful; the only spark he ever got was when he added Palin to the ticket.

If Romney does pull this off, the only way he’ll gain any conservative enthusiasm for his campaign is if he makes a very solid and wise choice for his vice president. If he opts for another middle-of-the-roader, he will find it difficult to get the grassroots support he will need. There will still be a lot of us who will vote for him, but only because another Obama term is unthinkable. But that’s not the same as heartfelt support for the nominee.

I do believe Romney can defeat Obama, but then I worry that we will have Obama-light. Sometimes when you win in the short term, you lose overall. Will he really overturn Obamacare? Will he make good choices for the Supreme Court? I could go on. These remain large questions in my mind.

The Pseudo-Controversy

The accusations against Herman Cain aren’t any more substantial today than they were last week. In the meantime, he had an interesting sitdown debate with New Gingrich on the issues of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. I wasn’t able to watch it, but the reviews I’ve read say it was worthwhile—a real opportunity to allow candidates to speak their minds in depth on issues without being subject to the whims of the broadcast media. No “gotcha” questions, just straight talk.

What’s difficult for some people to grasp is that it’s possible to be a black citizen in America and hold conservative views. Many think all blacks are completely sold out to liberal policies, so it astounds them when someone like Cain espouses conservatism, especially on economic issues and the role of government in society. It also enrages some. Such divergent opinions shouldn’t be permitted. Send that man to the back of the bus!

Or at least to the other water fountain. Let’s revive segregation! At least, that’s the way it appears at times.

I was watching the Huckabee program last night. His opening statement was about the way Cain has been treated by the media with respect to the unsubstantiated sexual harassment allegations. I wish I had a transcript of Huckabee’s statement, but it went something like this:

  • The media have tried to make a big deal out of nothing; they’ve worked hard to manufacture a scandal where one probably doesn’t exist.
  • In the past, the media have ignored genuine instances of sexual harassment and rampant infidelities—witness John Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and John Edwards, in particular.
  • Therefore, the media are very selective in deciding which ones merit extensive coverage, and wouldn’t you know, they always come out strong against any conservative who can be dragged down by either real wrongdoing or speculations of wrongdoing, while the escapades of liberals are scarcely mentioned.

Herman Cain should be given the benefit of the doubt, particularly since so many of his coworkers in the past have come to his defense, noting that he always treated everyone professionally, men and women alike.

Is the “Cain train” going to be derailed by this? We don’t know yet. But if it ever is derailed, let it be on the basis of a vote on his ideas and qualifications for the office, including his character, but not on a “he said, she almost-said” controversy. It’s time to turn the page on this pseudo-controversy and get back to the business of choosing the next president.

Herman Cain: For Real?

In 2008, most commentators treated Mike Huckabee as a fringe candidate who had no chance of winning anything. When he won the Iowa caucuses, they were stunned. He was the last candidate to stay in the race with McCain. He performed well above expectations. For that reason, he was considered one of the frontrunners this year until he decided not to make that run.

I mention the Huckabee example as a preface to writing about another such candidate this time around: Herman Cain. No one among the “official” punditry gives him any chance of winning the Republican nomination, yet he has shown surprising strength early on. In polls focusing on primary voters, he has consistently been in the lead or very close to it. At the mini-debate that took place recently among five of the contenders, the focus group at the end was virtually unanimous in declaring him the winner.

Just who is this man? Is he for real, or will he be no more than a footnote once this campaign ends?

Cain has never held public office. He tried once to receive the Republican nomination for senator from Georgia, but fell short. Why, then, does he think he can be successful in this quest?

Herman Cain says he is running because God wants him to do something significant with the rest of his life. He survived stage IV cancer, and shares a heartfelt testimony of how God led him through that ordeal and brought him out on the other side cancer free.

While that is great, and an inspirational story, what has he done with his life up to this point that makes him think he can be president?

Cain has a broad background in business. He began as a business analyst for Coca-Cola, then, with the Pillsbury company, rose to the level of vice president. Pillsbury owned Burger King at the time, and put Cain in charge of four hundred of those fast-food restaurants in the Philadelphia area, a region that was the least profitable in the country. In three years, he had made it into the most profitable.

Pillsbury was so pleased with his success that it gave him a new job—save another of its subsidiaries, Godfather’s Pizza, from going under. As CEO of that company, Cain worked his business magic again, making it profitable within fourteen months. He eventually left Godfather’s to become CEO of the National Restaurant Association. In addition to all of that business acumen, he was appointed to the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, where he served as chairman one year.

In other words, Cain is not a nobody; he has a resumé of success in the business and financial world.

What about the issues? Where does he stand?

On economics, he is a Reagan-style Republican devoted to less regulation and lower taxes. In fact, as with Huckabee, he is a supporter of the Fair Tax proposal, which would do away with all income taxes and go to a consumption tax instead. Bottom line: you keep all your money and then pay taxes only on what you decide to buy.

As a dedicated Christian evangelical, Cain opposes abortion and seeks to defund Planned Parenthood. He opposes same-sex marriage and supports the Defense of Marriage Act.

He’s also vocal about his concerns that there are some in the Muslim community who desire to construct Sharia law in the United States.

Education? Performance incentives for teachers; charter schools; voucher systems.

Energy? Drill more on our own land, even in ANWR; allow the private sector to develop alternative sources without government interference.

Healthcare? Repeal Obamacare and let the free market rule.

Immigration? Secure the border; no amnesty.

Cain is pro-Israel, pro-Second Amendment, and says his favorite Supreme Court justices are Scalia and Thomas.

If he can communicate effectively, who knows what might happen? I am not at this time declaring my support for his nomination, but I do believe he deserves a closer look. Will he be able to withstand the pressure that comes from increased scrutiny? Will he avoid a major gaffe along the way?

He has developed some significant grassroots support. Is it enough? I’m going to be watching with great interest.

Who Has the Vision?

Mike Huckabee is out. I’m sad over that, but trust his judgment. Donald Trump is out. I’m thrilled over that, yet not assured that he will stay out, but will try his hand at an independent run, thereby throwing the race to Obama.

This week, Newt Gingrich pretty much frittered away any chance he had, however small. I wasn’t his supporter anyway, but I at least acknowledge his ability to communicate and his flair for coming up with ideas. His marital failings, and the manner in which they were carried out, reveal a deeper problem. I believe God can turn someone around via true repentance, but I wasn’t convinced his repentance was very genuine. Yet now, with his attack on Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan for getting us out of our debt problem, Gingrich has alienated most of the rest of Republicans who weren’t as focused on moral issues.

I never believed Gingrich had much of a chance to get the nomination in the first place, but he is now electoral toast with Republican primary voters. His political fate is sealed, and his run is over almost as soon as it began.

That leads some commentators to think that Mitt Romney is the frontrunner, which I find highly disturbing. This is the man who won’t disavow his own healthcare plan that is bankrupting Massachusetts. Somehow, he wants us to believe that what he did with that plan, which is the forerunner for Obamacare, is somehow different than the Obama approach.

Sorry, I’m not convinced. If this is the best the Republicans can do, they will deserve to lose again in 2012. However, I’m still hopeful that primary voters will not succumb to this type of doubletalk and will instead gravitate toward someone who will effectively challenge the Obama agenda and present a positive vision for the future.

Who will that be?