A Meditation on Disinformation, Taking Responsibility, & Apologies

Polling since the second debate has been fascinating. While every “snap” poll gave the overall debate to Obama by small margins, those same polls show that Romney won in basically every category, from how to handle the economy to taxes to security. In some cases, the numbers weren’t even close. How then did Obama gain a “victory” when the particulars show differently? It all comes down to perceptions. Since he was aggressive, he won points for that, but it seems the voters don’t really believe he has any solutions.

If not for the Libya stumble at the debate, the overall number might have been different. Romney didn’t handle that question well, focusing as he did on the president’s Rose Garden statement when he should have stuck exclusively to the trail of evidence from September 11 through the  couple of weeks that followed the terrorist attack. Of course, it is increasingly clear that Obama had some inside help from the moderator, Candy Crowley:

No moderator should ever interrupt a candidate with a presumed “fact check,” particularly when the fact check is inaccurate itself. Crowley as much as admitted afterward that Romney was essentially correct in his statement that Obama never specifically acknowledged the Libyan murders to be a terrorist act. He spoke about acts of terror in general, but the main thrust of his statement that day was on the so-called provocation of the anti-Muslim video on the internet. He continued to spread that disinformation for at least two weeks, culminating in his UN speech on September 25.

After the debate, Obama went up to the man who raised the question of the security status at the Libyan consulate and told him that the reason he didn’t call it terrorism from the start—which, by the way, reversed what he said in the debate—was that he wanted to get all the facts first, and that he was sensitive to not spreading disinformation. Huh? From September 11 through at least September 25, he was the master of disinformation. Even now, he has found it difficult to boldly declare the event a terrorist attack. This is reminiscent of the way he handled the Ft. Hood massacre. Anytime there’s evidence of Islamic radicalism behind an act, he instinctively recoils from “pre-judging.”

Did anyone notice that he never really answered the question the man asked him at the debate? It had to do with the lack of security at the consulate on the president’s watch. Obama avoided addressing that directly, and then when Romney critiqued him for the security lapse, the president’s rejoinder was to become indignant and deliver a “how dare you accuse me of not caring about our embassy personnel” diatribe. It was a forceful statement, to be sure. It was also devoid of any facts to back up his indignation. He chose bluster over substance.

The question remains: why was security so lax?

Hope can only go so far.

Finally, just prior to the debate, someone stepped up and took responsibility, at least technically.

Quite conveniently, Hillary Clinton said she was accountable for the security problem, not the president. I do agree that it was her task to look out for the safety of our diplomatic personnel, but whose orders was she following? It’s always nice when underlings take the entire blame, but it never relieves the one in charge of ultimate responsibility no matter how much he may want to pawn it off on others.

I suggest that President Obama now undertake another apology tour, only this time it should be directed to those who actually are owed an apology:

We apologize also, Mr. President. Please forgive us for putting someone in the highest office in this land who combines a radical ideology with massive incompetence. You weren’t qualified for the job you now hold and we are responsible for placing you there. On November 6, we would like to deliver that apology to you in person—on a massive scale.

The Second Debate

I’m writing this just a few minutes after the end of the second presidential debate. The spinners are at work, doing their job, saying the things they already planned to say regardless of the outcome. It’s such a useless exercise to bring any representatives of the candidates to the interview table after debates because they are scripted ahead of time. It doesn’t matter what actually happened in the debate; they will say what they were going to say anyway.

There are two ways people decide who wins debates: one is to focus on style, the other on substance. Substance, of course, should be the determiner, but pundits and the media types are fixated on style. So, many of them will say Obama won simply because he wasn’t comatose, as he was in the first debate. He was more aggressive. That’s true. He was. But from my perspective, his aggressiveness was primarily a cover for lack of substance. I also think his natural haughtiness was on display. He clearly despises Mitt Romney, and it shows. I’m not sure he helped his own likeability score with some of his testiness.

On the issues, he attempted to turn nearly everything into class warfare or a war on women. He kept referring to Planned Parenthood and how awful it would be to defund it. That’s because he’s the most pro-abortion president in American history. Frankly, I continue to be amazed—although why, I’m not sure—how both Obama and Biden can fabricate “facts” without any embarrassment. There’s also no shame over the continuing blame game directed at Bush. Obama’s partisans will feel like he did well, but those who understand his worldview and the policies that have emanated from it, will know better. It was style over substance.

What about Romney? He was almost as good as in the first debate, but not quite. He absolutely nailed Obama’s failed economic record. He was eloquent on the need to free the market and get government out of the way. As usual, he had a laser-like focus on creating jobs and prosperity. Yet he had to do so while dealing with some rather stupid questions directed to him while Obama got mostly softballs. These “undecided” voters sounded suspiciously like Democrats.

Romney also had a moderator problem at a critical moment. He was challenging Obama’s reluctance to call the Libya attack an act of terrorism. He noted that the president wouldn’t even call it that the day after in his Rose Garden statement. At that point, Candy Crowley, the moderator, jumped in and did her own personal fact-check on Romney, saying that Obama did indeed call it an act of terrorism in his statement. First, that is not the proper role of the moderator. She definitely took Obama’s side and threw Romney off his stride. Commentators, both during the debate on the internet, and afterwards on television, fact-checked the fact-checker. It turns out Romney was correct; Obama mentioned acts of terror, but did not apply it to the Libya attack directly. In fact [since facts are what we are supposed to be most concerned about], for weeks after September 11, he continued to blame the so-called film about Muhammad and described it as a spontaneous demonstration. He even held to that view in his UN speech.

Hopefully, the audience recognized the impropriety and heard the correction later.

All Obama has ever done in these debates and on the campaign trail is ask the voters to give him another four years to do the things he didn’t do the first four years. As Romney warned the audience last night, four more years of Obama would be a repeat of the last four years.

Another cartoonist illustrated the same point in a different way:

So are we going to be sheeple once again? We’ll see how this debate affects the polls, but always check the numbers behind the numbers when those polls appear. My prediction is that either there will be no shift as a result of this debate or that the Romney numbers will continue to climb slowly.

The final debate, next Monday, will be on foreign policy. If Romney’s smart, he’ll be unrelenting on Libya, on Obama’s dismal record in support of Israel, and on how Obama’s grandiose promises of changing the attitude of other nations toward America have utterly failed.


Tonight is presidential debate #2, townhall style this time. After his drubbing in the first debate, President Obama will probably come out more aggressively than he would have ordinarily. The real question is whether he will pull a Joe Biden or be more calm in his aggressiveness. The biggest problem he faces, though, is his tendency to come across as arrogant. I can see how an aggressive Obama might trigger his inner arrogance for all to see. What’s particularly fascinating to me is the insight into his mind after the first debate: he actually thought he had won. So we’re dealing with someone who entertains delusions of grandeur—but we already knew that.

His other problem, of course, is to try to steer the conversation away from his record. So he will attempt to continue the theme that Romney is an unlikeable, coldhearted money grubber. Why, he even hates Big Bird. He wants to defund him. For the Obama team, that seems to be the height of outrageous behavior. They’ve even run a campaign ad on the subject. Who would have ever guessed that Big Bird and Sesame Street would become a centerpiece of the Obama strategy?

I guess they figure they can push this narrative enough to overshadow all the other pressing issues. I mean, what could possible be more important than saving a make-believe character?

Some people are even planning a “Million Muppet March” on Washington. Right. By the way, you don’t have to feel too bad for Big Bird; the entire Sesame Street gang are taken care of quite well through all the merchandise they sell. The free market has worked its wonders for them; they don’t need taxpayer dollars.

It’s foolishness like this that turns people off from genuine political debate. Even the debates themselves can be hijacked at times and follow a familiar pattern:

We hear a lot of talk about the demise of civility in politics. Sometimes those who decry it the most are the most ardent practitioners of that demise:

The remedy is to look more closely at the record of the one using the “liar” term so loosely:

Did you remember all those? I have provided this reminder as a public service. While watching the debate tonight, it would be good to keep all these fact-challenged statements in mind.

The Biden Circus

“Bizarre” might be the most appropriate word to describe what transpired in the VP debate last night, and the centerpiece of Bizzaro World was the rude, disgusting behavior of our current vice president. Never in my many years of watching and analyzing political debates have I encountered such a boorish display. I’ve witnessed rudeness before—think of Al Gore’s massive “sighs” in his debate with George Bush—and supreme arrogance—John Kerry at all times—but Joe Biden left all contenders for the title of “Most Reprehensible Candidate” in the dust.

I’m not alone in this assessment. Veteran newsman Chris Wallace declared this was the most disrespectful treatment of a political opponent he had ever encountered in his career. Britt Hume looked absolutely stunned by what he had seen and heard. Every time Paul Ryan spoke, the split-screen revealed Biden laughing derisively, vehemently shaking his head, and rolling his eyes. That was only the opening act. As the debate progressed, the vice president continually interrupted Ryan, not merely as an attempted corrective to what he was saying, but in a boisterous manner reminiscent of the schoolyard bully used to getting his way. The tally for the number of times he interrupted stands at 82. Quite simply, Biden’s “performance” was embarrassing. One headline afterwards caught the spirit of what had occurred: Smirkathon.

I have to give tremendous credit to Ryan for maintaining his poise in the midst of this tactic, and it was truly a planned tactic. Obama was so listless in his debate that the overall strategy for this one seemed to be to make up for it by exuding energy and taking control of the event. Ryan, subjected to this barrage, attempted nevertheless to keep the audience focused on the issues. How well he succeeded was borne out of the Insta-Polls that followed. Of the four I read about, he won three. The obligatory Frank Luntz focus group of undecided voters was, in my opinion, as befuddled as any group of undecideds I’ve seen lately. None of them indicated that this debate had helped them make their decision. As I’ve noted many times before, to be an undecided voter at this point in the campaign reveals the absence of any concept of a philosophy of government to begin with. If one cannot choose between these two distinct visions of how government should operate and what the future of the country ought to be, perhaps the best option would be not to vote at all.

Lost in the haze of Biden’s immature behavior was the substance of the comments on both sides. Let me start with Mr. Biden. Any decent analysis of the truthfulness of his comments must take into account at least three of his claims. First, he blamed the intelligence operatives for not providing the administration with the facts about the attack on the American consulate in Libya and the murder of four Americans there, including our ambassador. He took no responsibility whatever for the administration’s false narrative about a YouTube video being the cause of the attack. But that’s a pattern for Obama and his people—always blame someone else.

Second, he declared the administration had never been given any indication that there were security issues at the consulate, directly contradicting the facts that came out clearly just the day before in a House investigation of the matter. State Department officials admitted that embassy personnel in Libya had repeatedly requested a security upgrade, and that they felt threatened by the turn of events there. The ambassador himself had sought help. All requests were denied by the Obama State Department headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Third, Biden blamed the Bush years for the massive national debt rather than the wildly reckless spending of the past four years, which far outstripped anything Bush did in eight years. Further, he said he had voted against spending money on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, he voted in favor of those wars. What we have here is a lie so blatant he ought to be called out on it by every media outlet. Will that happen?

What about Paul Ryan? I’ve already noted he kept his composure under very trying circumstances. He didn’t descend to Biden’s level, although he did get in what might have been the sound bite of the night when, after Biden criticized Romney for talking about the 47% on the government dole, Ryan told the vice president that he, of all people, should understand that what comes out of one’s mouth is not always the way one intended for it to sound. It was a deftly placed comment on Biden’s tendency to be a human gaffe-machine. That line earned what seemed to be the only genuine laughter from the audience throughout this debate ordeal.

Ryan was direct on the failures of the Obama administration in foreign policy, and he did very well, as expected, when talking about the economy, which is his forte. His closing statement was directed straight into the camera to connect with the television audience, and it was crisp and specific. For me, though, his best moment came when he defended his views on pro-life. He not only referenced his faith as a basis for believing as he does, but also drew the audience’s attention to the science behind the fact of when life begins.

Joe Biden tried to turn last night into a circus. He succeeded in a limited way: he came across as the clown.

I don’t know who started this, but after the debate, both on Facebook and in the Twitter universe, a Bible verse started making the rounds.

Proverbs 29:9—When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, the foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.


Guest Post: Dr. Michael Farris

Dr. Michael Farris, the founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Patrick Henry College, posted in Facebook his exceptional explanation for how he came to a decision on how to vote in this current presidential election. Actually, what he outlines is a principled approach that I would recommend for all Christians and/or conservatives as we contemplate candidates. So often, we want perfection in our candidates, but that’s a rarity. I asked Dr. Farris if I could use his essay as my post today, and he graciously agreed.

As you read his explanation, you can see that he has a sharp legal mind—it comes to the forefront as he lays out the case step by step. I am deeply impressed by the logic of his writing and only wish I could be that clear as I try to persuade people to consider the things I write.

The essay is a little lengthy, but I predict that if you are honestly seeking answers, or if you are looking for a strong rationale for why you believe as you do, you will want to read it to the end.

Mike Farris: Principles for Christians as They Decide How to Vote

This has been the most unusual election season of my life. The chief reason for the difference is my very active participation in Facebook—which has thrust me into a wide-ranging discussion (and sometimes heated debates) in a format that is very egalitarian in nature. I can only hope that I have contributed to others as much as I feel that my FB friends have contributed to me.

But because of my background, I have been asked countless times for my views about the various candidates. And during the primary process I was very open about my inability to support the “front-runner” Mitt Romney.  In the context of a primary election, there is no doubt that I had to support someone who had views and a record much closer to my own views. I supported Rick Santorum.

But now it is general election time. And I have to say that I have been much slower to reach a decision regarding the General Election than any previous election in my lifetime.  I have heard the arguments about the inappropriateness of choosing the “lesser of two evils.”  I have taken these arguments very seriously.

I have spent as much time as I have had available thinking about the broader question: How should an American Christian make a decision in a general election? Asking the question this way helps to focus on both halves of the criteria that seem appropriate to me. There are factors which arise because I am a Christian and other factors that arise because I am an American. I look to both sets of factors.

First, and most importantly, I am a Christian. I need to do my very best to understand God’s standards from the Word of God. I reject the idea that God’s Word has nothing to say to us about voting. Proverbs 3:6 says: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” There is no exception to this rule for politics. All means all. God has something to say to the Christian about every aspect of his or her life.  

In Hosea 8:1-4, God rebukes Israel for choosing Kings and Princes without His approval. And in Deuteronomy 7:14-et seq. God gives Israel the standards for choosing a King. God has something to say to us about our choices of political leaders.

But, even though I have been involved with the Christian-political world essentially on a full-time basis since 1980, and having read extensively in this area, I do not think that American Christian leadership has done a proper job of developing, justifying, and teaching a clear set of principles for this purpose from the Word. I have been tempted to develop my own set of principles. But, even though I think I could do a decent job on this point, I feel that it is arrogant for any individual Christian to attempt to speak in a normative way on this subject in an attempt to tell the whole Body of Believers what the correct standard is for making voting decisions. So I share with you my views but not with a claim that my views should control yours. Of all of the biblical conclusions I have reached about this election, I hold one view the strongest based on Romans 14:4: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

I have to confess that I have lost patience with people who seek to batter other believers into accepting their views about this election. There are many who feel compelled by conscience to vote for Mitt Romney because the alternative is so frightful to consider. There are others, not as many (but very vociferous) who think that voting for the lesser of two evils is a grievous sin. And they have concluded as a matter of conscience that they cannot vote for him.

Here is my statement to both camps. Leave each other alone. If you want to tell people what you have chosen to do and why, that is perfectly acceptable. But, I view it as a sin for any of you to attempt to override the conscience of another believer by the sheer force of your will. That is what Romans 14:4 teaches. Accordingly, I am instituting an immediate policy of deleting any comment that appears to me to be a violation of this rule. (I will not come to your FB page and seek to enforce this rule. Your wall. Your rules. My wall. My rules. I will insist on civility.)

This election has caused me to understand that there is a difference between “endorsing” a candidate and voting for a candidate.  Because of my leadership position, I have come to understand that there should be a very high standard that I should employ before I endorse a candidate.  As you will see, I have come to look at candidates in one of four ways: 1. Those who are very supportive of my views. 2. Those who will listen to my views. 3. Those who are indifferent to my views. 4. Those who are openly hostile to my views.

In the past, I have tried—more or less—to only endorse candidates who are in the first category—those who are supportive of my views. I intend to follow this standard very rigorously from this point forward. Accordingly, I will make no endorsement for President in 2012. This does not mean that I intend not to vote. I will vote for a candidate for reasons I describe below.

There is no candidate in this race who is supportive of my views on my five most important issues. This includes third party candidates and the possibility of write-in votes. Part of the reason that I say this is that I view experience and leadership as biblical standards that are an important part of the calculus for a voting decision. Concerning elders the Bible says, “Lay hands on no man suddenly.” 1 Tim. 5:22. And concerning the selection of deacons, “They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve.”  I believe that it is appropriate to apply these standards by extension to candidates for political office. I want candidates who have been tested and who have the experience to perform the task at hand.

Other than the two major candidates, I have seen no one who claims to be running for president who meets the test of life preparation and experience to hold this weighty office.

This conclusion, however, does not necessarily mean that I will automatically vote for the “lesser evil” of the two remaining candidates. The idea of not voting for anyone is something that I have seriously considered.

This test is akin to the test of personal character that is applicable to church leaders and I believe is essential for the evaluation of political leaders as well. I realize that on the issue of personal character we have limited information for both Obama and Romney.  There could be skeletons hiding in the closet for either or both of them. And in terms of their political lives, both men are subject to criticism for saying one thing and doing another. That matters. But, the area of character that is most visible to all of us is the marriage and family life of both men. In our society, marital faithfulness is passé for many. And giving some priority to your children is unfortunately rare.

In these areas, I would say that both men seem to be very good to their wives and their children. Whatever their other faults may be—and they are many—I have to say that I admire each of these men as it pertains to their family life.

Now we turn to the issue of the public policy positions of the candidates—as measured by both their speeches and their records.

If perfection is our standard for the evaluation of policy issues, we will never find a candidate to fulfill our wishes.  (Even I would not be perfect in the eyes of many since I hate chocolate and really don’t care for the Lord of the Rings movies.)

I have decided to evaluate the candidates based on the issues that are the most important to me using the four-standards I mentioned earlier.  Take the issue of abortion, for example:

1. Does the candidate enthusiastically agree with my pro-life position?

2. Is the candidate willing to listen to my pro-life position and work with people like me to move in the right direction?

3. Is the candidate indifferent to my pro-life position?

4. Is the candidate openly hostile to my pro-life position?

If a candidate is in the 1st or 2nd group for all—or nearly all—of the issues that are most important to me, then I am willing to vote for such a candidate.  If a candidate is in the 4th group (open hostility) for any of the positions that I hold to be most important, I would not be able to vote for such a candidate.

I admit that this is a pragmatic method of decision-making. But, I think that God tells us to use pragmatism in our long-range decisions. In Luke 14:28-30, the person building a tower was admonished to count the costs of the building project and to make sure that he had the money and materials to complete the project. The builder could have just “trusted God” to supply his needs. But, God does not praise that kind of presumption. He tells us to plan and to make sure that we have the materials to do the job. That is pragmatism.

This is not to say that pragmatism is the trump card for all matters—not at all. Rather, I read this passage (and others) to say that practical thinking has a role in these kinds of decisions.

Here are some of the components of my pragmatic assessment of the situation.

  • People who hold my worldview are not in the political majority.
  • Many who share my basic religious beliefs, have significant gaps in their worldview because of lack of training.
  • Many others have significant differences in their worldview because they have listened to voices that are not based on biblical presuppositions.
  • A great number of people who are likely to hold to the worldview that I believe are not registered to vote or, if registered, are indifferent to actually voting.
  • Christians, especially pastors, are responsible for these factors that have significantly diminished our potential influence in an election. If Christians were reaching our own with proper training and if our own actively participated, we would be a much more powerful force in politics.

 We need to face the pragmatic fact that we are a minority. Thus, if we cannot make alliances with people who are open to working with us, then we are doomed to lose everything that is important to us.

As a dedicated minority group, we can accomplish our highest public policy goals if we are properly engaged in the rough and tumble world of coalition politics. Homosexuals are a tiny minority, yet they have had extraordinary political success by becoming an integral part of the liberal coalition.  Homeschoolers are also a tiny minority and we also have had extraordinary political success by becoming an integral part of the conservative coalition.

Consider the relative success of these various components of the conservative movement:

  • The pro-life movement
  • The traditional marriage movement
  • The anti-pornography movement
  • The anti-tax movement
  • The anti-Federal Reserve movement
  • The anti-government debt movement
  • The homeschooling movement

The fact is that none of these causes, except one, have gained much ground. Homeschooling freedom has come a long, long way in the last 30 years. Accordingly, I think we need to look at this movement’s tactics to see what works.

It is pretty clear—we have been successful because homeschoolers have been willing to work with two kinds of politicians—those who fully embrace the idea of homeschooling (i.e. homeschooling parents and graduates) along with those who will listen to homeschoolers and are open to working with us to advance our goals.

If we had demanded that every candidate become one of us in order for us to work with them—homeschooling would still be illegal in 47 states (according to the government officials) rather than being recognized as legal in all 50 states.

Political success comes when we work with: 1. Our kind of people and 2. Those who will listen to us and work with us. That is the only way that a minority group can ever succeed.  And, again, we are a minority group on the broader range of issues that are important.

I wish we were the majority. But, we will have to tackle that problem on another day. For now, I will just say that it is going to take a revolution among pastors to turn our minority into the majority that we could become. (This revolution will require rethinking many things—the way we share the Gospel, the way we train our children, and the way we think about politics.) But for today, we are a minority and we have to act like a smart minority aiming for success rather than a misguided minority aiming for an all or nothing strategy. Before I turn to my analysis of the issues—I have to face my own rather strident comments toward Mitt Romney during the primary process.  Some may ask: What changed? Three things.

  • First, the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare was a real surprise to me. I was convinced that it would go down to defeat and there was no chance that a new Congress would re-enact it.  If this law is not reversed before it is fully implemented we will never rid ourselves of socialism.
  • Second, the Obama administration made a very strong attempt to pass the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities—demonstrating an intention to fully enact the entire UN agenda. This is coupled with Mitt Romney’s strong position in opposition to this kind of use of international law. I cannot stress too strongly how important this is—at least to me.
  • Finally, I actually paid attention to the comments of my friends here on FB and elsewhere. I would have to say that the tenor of the comments meant as much to me as the substance. I became open to rethinking my views in light of these comments.  And that rethinking has led me to address the two candidates on an issue by issue basis.

So, what are the issues that are the most important to me? I am going to share my list. I do not claim that your list should be exactly the same as mine.

 1. Does the candidate support or oppose American self-government?

The reason that our Founders declared independence from England in 1776 was not because of religious liberty or tax policy—it was because they believed that the principle of American self-government was worth the risk of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

Barack Obama is openly hostile to the principle of American self-government. He wants to seek ratification of every currently unratified UN treaty including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. These treaties would use international law to override American self-government on parental rights, abortion rights, homosexual rights, gun rights, and a host of other issues while fully mandating a robust socialist state. These policies are bad substantively. But, they are far worse when they are forced down our unwilling throats as a consequence of the primacy of international treaties.

Barack Obama’s hostility to American self-government makes all of his other bad policy positions seem like child’s play in my view. This is the biggest issue to me—and Obama is hostile to this central premise of American political life. He is strongly desirous of making America subject to the rule of international law under the UN.

Mitt Romney has told me in a one-on-one conversation that he fully agrees with my view that such UN treaties have no legitimate place in our legal system. He has sent me a personal, signed letter saying the same thing. This letter has been made public. There is nothing in his past to cause me to doubt his sincerity on this issue. So on this issue, I rate Mitt Romney as “one of us”—fully agreeing with our position. (This is the only issue where he gets this rating from me.)

2. The Right to Life.

Barack Obama is openly hostile to the right to life. He is absolutely committed to Roe v. Wade and the full support of Planned Parenthood. He will fight us every step of the way on this issue.

Mitt Romney has a checkered past on this issue. He claims that he has been converted to the pro-life position. I don’t feel convinced that he has fully converted. However, it is clear that he is talking pro-life talk and taking pro-life positions. I think he does this, at least in part, because he realizes that being perceived as pro-life is necessary for his political success. And I don’t think he thinks that it is just necessary to be pro-life until November of 2012. He wants to be re-elected. So, at a minimum, I think we can count on him to keep up this pragmatic approach until November of 2016.

This does not make Mitt Romney my enemy. I think it is fair to say that he is listening to pro-life people and wants to work with pro-life people. I give him a “2” on this issue. He is not one of us. But he listens and is willing to have us in his coalition and knows the necessity of advancing some of our pro-life priorities.

3. Marriage and same-sex issues.

Barack Obama again in open-war against our values on this issue. He could not be worse.

Mitt Romney has a very troubling record on this issue–so troubling that I have a difficult time believing that he is a “2” on this issue. He now says that he is against same-sex marriage. But his rhetoric and record is so mixed on homosexual rights issues that it is hard to know what to expect. But, he is not openly hostile to our agenda. I conclude that he is someplace between a 2 (listening to us) and a 3 (indifferent to us). 

4. Religious freedom.

Barack Obama is batting four-for-four. He is an enemy of religious liberty. Only those religious groups that do not challenge his worldview should be allowed to have freedom. Pro-life religions are not tolerated. The name of Jesus cannot be prayed in military ceremonies.  He is worse than any American president in history on this issue. Bill Clinton actually supported religious liberty. I would give Clinton a 1 on religious liberty (back when he was president, not now.) I give Barack Obama a 4. I do not mean to suggest that President Obama is actively rounding up Christians to arrest us for our views. However, there is a systematic pattern of favoring government power whenever religious people bump up against the politically correct thinking of the left by refusing to fund insurance for abortion services or by insisting on praying to Jesus as a military chaplain.

Mitt Romney supports religious liberty in a robust fashion—today. Some people claim that some components of his record in Massachusetts demonstrate an indifference to our view. From what I know, these examples are pretty few in number. But, today he is saying all of the right things on this issue. Has he fully changed? I don’t know. If he had fully changed, I would give him a “1”—being one of us—but, because of my doubts on his changes, I give him a “2”—he listens to us and is open to advancing our viewpoint on religious liberty.

It is highly relevant to note that the LDS Church has an exemplary record on the issue of religious liberty for a long, long time. I think that Mitt Romney will listen to voices of religious liberty.

5. The Scope of Government (taxes, spending, etc.)

Barack Obama advocates a socialist state. Anyone who doubts this has never read or digested the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Obama not only wants government services for their own sake, he actively believes that the redistribution of wealth is the morally appropriate policy. He is an enemy of those who believe in a government based on liberty, not socialism.

Mitt Romney will spend way too much money and will promote programs at the federal level that properly belong to the states. But, unlike Barack Obama he does not believe in the redistribution of wealth as a moral imperative.

Accordingly, I give Obama a 4 on this issue and Romney a 3. He is indifferent to small, government conservative views on spending, but he is not an enemy of private property that is inherent in those who believe in the redistribution of wealth.

Those are my five issues. Obama is openly hostile to my views on all the things that I believe are the most important. Romney is “one of us” on the issue of American self-government and listens to us on most of the others and is truly indifferent to our views on only one.

With this in mind, am I giving into an improper “lesser of two evils” argument?

I don’t think so. Every election is a contest between two sinners—so it is always a question of the lesser of two sinners.

I think the more relevant analysis boils down to the question of whether both candidates are our enemies. If both are our enemies, then neither should get our votes. But, if one is clearly an enemy of our deeply-cherished values, and the other is (on average) open to listening to us and working with us—this is not merely the lesser of two people in the same category.

While he is not “one of us”, Mitt Romney is not our enemy. He wants us in his coalition. Barack Obama strongly opposes our most important values.

Only an all-or-nothing approach views these two choices as equivalent. All or nothing is not the way homeschoolers have achieved victory. And I aim for victory on the issues I believe in.

It is the American self-government issue that is the most important to me. If we retain American self-government we live to fight again on all the other issues. Obama is going to eliminate self-government through the use of UN treaties. I view this moment as do or die for American self-government.

I am going to vote for Mitt Romney.

However, I would say that if Mitt Romney gets elected president, it will be the job of every loyal American to make sure that he lives up to the promises he is making to us now. I am hopeful he will do the things he promises. But, I will be watchful and ready to call the alarm.


A Mature Electoral Decision This Time?

Yesterday was the day of shock. Top-ranking Democrats seemed to wander the nation unsure what to say or do in the wake of the Disaster in Denver. About the best the Obama campaign could do was to sponsor an ad that accused Romney of being mean. Well, what would you expect? They couldn’t exactly defend their candidate’s performance, so they dragged out the old canard of blaming the other guy. They’ve practiced it repeatedly the last four years with respect to George W. Bush, so why not use it again? Once you’re in the habit . . .

What they don’t want to admit is that they were trounced not just because of style or ability to debate, but that they had nothing substantially that they could legitimately defend when it came to the economy, and that was the primary subject of the debate. They already had a losing hand going in; the only suspense was if they could bluster and mislead cleverly enough to obscure the reality. It didn’t work.

Obama’s dismal appearance on that stage resurrected in the minds of some cartoonists the Clint Eastwood ploy at the Republican Convention:

This one had a slightly different take:

Obama was the student, Romney the instructor.

Even the media arm of the Obama campaign—otherwise known as MSNBC, NBC, CNN, ABC, CBS,the New York Times, etc.—has had a tough time trying to swallow what took place. They seem off-balance. If only they would revert to genuine journalism, but that’s a rather fanciful dream:

I actually think the media organizations, in their desire to protect the One, did him a real disservice the past four years. He has never been challenged with any regularity throughout his 2008 campaign or his presidency by a media seeking truth. They’ve coddled him, which is something he has been used to throughout his life. As a result, when faced with genuine questioning of his policies and his truthfulness, he has had no practice in thinking how to respond. When you lead a sheltered existence, it comes back to hurt you in the end.

So now we’re told the Obama team is retooling in preparation for the next debate. They’re revising their strategy. We’ll have to wait and see how that works out. Some conservatives have warned to expect the full Chicago treatment from now on. What October surprise will they attempt? Even if they can’t come up with one of those, they have the old tried and true advantage:

The real question is whether the electorate will once again be swayed by the goodies. Or will we make a mature decision instead?

The Romney Rout

Last night’s presidential debate wasn’t even close. It turned into a Romney rout. That’s not merely my judgment nor the judgment of Republican backers of the candidate, but of practically the entire political world, Right and Left, and everyone in between.

When even Bill Maher—the million-dollar-Obama donor—tweets that the president needed his teleprompter, and radical celebrity filmmaker Michael Moore moans, “This is what happens when you pick John Kerry as your debate coach,” you know Obama had an awful night. It was so bad I almost questioned whether my personal beliefs were getting in the way of evaluating the debate without an undue bias. Obama just kept endlessly repeating the same tired talking points. He was uninspiring and flat. As many commentators noted afterwards, he acted like he didn’t really want to be there.

Romney was the polar opposite. He was eager to jump in and give his perspective on taxes, the deficit, Obamacare, and how to get the economy running again. He had reason to be eager; his command of the facts was superb and his delivery was forceful without being arrogant or overbearing. Further, he, at times, channeled a bit of Ronald Reagan when he lifted the debate above the mundane economic facts and spoke of his vision for the country. Particularly satisfying to me was his reference to the founding documents—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—and his pointed reminder that there is a Tenth Amendment in that Constitution that says the federal government doesn’t run our lives, that the states and the people, respectively, are to have most of the governmental authority. One cartoonist, before the debate, predicted the essence of what took place on that stage:

Insta-Polls taken by CBS and CNN immediately following the debate showed an overwhelming victory for Romney. CBS gave him a 46-22 edge; CNN’s poll was even more amazing: a 67-25 Romney advantage. A focus group moderated by Frank Luntz on Fox News stunned Luntz. The majority of the 20-odd people in his group said the debate changed their minds, and they were now planning to vote for the Republican challenger. He said he’d never, in all his previous experience, witnessed such a turnaround.

How is this going to affect the polling going forward? Will this debate prove to be the watershed event of the campaign season? Will public opinion begin to trend toward Romney? That all depends. There are two more presidential debates; Romney has to continue what he started last night if he’s going to seal the deal. He will still have to battle a media that desperately wants Obama to be reelected. Pollsters are going to have to be more honest in their samplings and realize this is not a 2008 electorate. A lot depends on how many of each category—Democrat, Republican, independents—they include in their polling. There’s also the character and leanings of the pollsters themselves to consider; questions can be framed in such a way as to lead the electorate to the “proper” answer:

Next on the docket is the lone vice-presidential debate on Thursday, October 11. Paul Ryan has to make sure he is as well prepared as Romney was for last night’s debate. Frankly, I would be shocked if he didn’t deliver as strong a performance as Romney’s; Ryan is well prepared all the time, since he practically lives and breathes policy. He has another factor working in his favor—he gets to debate Joe Biden.

Biden rather infamously, in a speech earlier this week, decried how the middle class has been buried the last four years, apparently forgetting who has been in charge all that time. Even some Democrats refer to him as a human gaffe machine. May he live up to his reputation.

Last night proves there is still hope for a genuine change. It’s now more than a four-year-old empty slogan.