EDITOR OF REDSTATE
Morning Briefing for February 22, 2010
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2. The Leader
This morning I was greeted to close to 100 emails of mixed reviews on Glenn Beck’s speech. There seem to be a lot of people who did not like Glenn Beck equating the Republicans to the Democrats. For an example, let me refer you to Bill Bennett. Secretary Bennett and I had an encounter on CNN the other night sounding out similar themes. He did not like me batting down the establishment GOP as something less than he thought they were.
Glenn Beck’s speech gave resonance to what a lot of the tea party activists and conservatives at CPAC feel — the GOP is as bad as the Democrats. But we have to have a very careful caveat here: the GOP has not been good on spending and portions of economic policy. We cannot make it, however, a blanket statement. As Glenn Beck said last night, “One party says it will tax and spend. The other party says it won’t tax and will spend.” We have to be careful in our zeal to clean up Washington not to take that for more than what it is.
Therein lies much of the concern. There is real angst that some people are agitating for a third party because of what they see as an unrepentant GOP. And the fear is that Glenn Beck is feeding this. I hope he is not. I would have to part ways if that were the case. History shows that neither the most popular third party candidate, Teddy Roosevelt, nor the richest, Ross Perot, were ever able to get elected. All they did was get the Democrat elected.
And for those of you who think that is no big deal, let me ask you again: how many Americans are going to die because of Barack Obama’s handling of our national security? If you think the GOP would be as bad on this issue, you need a reality check.
It is the GOP that wants to cut the costs of health care through expanding the free market. It is the GOP that wants to fight the enemy instead of compromising with them. It is the GOP that wants to upend our failing public schools and make them actually teach instead of function as a retirement home for teachers union employees. It is the GOP that stands in defense of freedom against tyranny. It was, for example, the GOP that stood with Honduras against Hugo Chavez while Barack Obama gave a full throated embrace of the communist dictator and the thugs of South America.
But the GOP still does have problems. My position and that of this site is to go conservative in primaries and Republican in generals. That will not change. There are a few points worth mentioning in this regard.
2. The Leader
Many, many reporters have asked me who the leader of the conservative movement is right now or who the leader of the tea party movement is.
They rarely report the answer, though they should be paying attention to it. In the CPAC straw poll, one name dominated the pack. With the highest favorable ratings (73%) and lowest unfavorable ratings (8%), Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina led the field — scoring higher popularity than Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mike Pence, John Beohner, Mitch McConnell, or Michael Steel.
It’d be easy to dismiss the polling except that, unlike the Ron Paul vote for winner, DeMint’s popular scores across the field from young to old, conservative to libertarian oriented.
The Politico has an interesting story about Toyota up. It seems the company does not much care for this administration.
It is not, however, just Toyota. Lots of businesses and industries are feeling the same way. In large part, this is why the jobs are not coming back. Businesses are deeply, deeply worried about the activist bent of the Obama administration and the anti-free market stance it has repeatedly taken on issues. The uncertainty and antagonism are causing businesses to keep money on the sidelines.
Another year at CPAC has come and gone. Another chance to meet and greet, to hear pontifications, to be uplifted by rhetoric and share in good fellowship and bad, overpriced hotel food (and service!). Many things about CPAC were the same this year, and some were different. For instance, much less of the conference’s attendees were college students bussed in to stuff the straw poll ballot box. So far as I know, Ann Coulter didn’t intentionally steal the show with any outrageous remarks. And this time, there was actual internet access in the hotel.
But by far the most important difference was the atmosphere. Since the first CPAC I attended in 2007, this was the first time I really had the sense that the attendees smelled victory on the horizon.
One of the stories coming out of CPAC this year is the embrace of the tea party movement not by the Republican Party, but by the conservative movement.
The issues of spending and smaller government are shared across the board.
But while conservatives are embracing the tea party movement, Republican Senators continue castigating tea party activists and hoping they shut up and go away. The latest is Senator Orin Hatch who is petrified that tea party activists might elect Mike Lee and defeat Bob Bennett in Utah.
Box Elder County, Utah had a GOP straw poll last night. Bob Bennett may be celebrating his win in public, but in private he is putting on Depends and girding himself for defeat. It is pretty clear after Box Elder’s straw poll, regardless of just how meaningless straw polls tend to be, that Bob Bennett is in serious, serious trouble.
Bob Bennett received 121 votes while Mike Lee received 100. Candidate Bridgewater got 50 with candidate Eagar getting 35.
But here’s the thing and why this straw poll is notable even though straw polls can typically be dismissed like the CPAC one: Mike Lee has not had a meeting in Box Elder yet, and he got 21 votes less than Bennett. More troubling, and why this straw poll has some credibility, is that Utah is going through a caucus process. Straw polls can, in fact, reflect the passion of the crowd that turns out in a caucus.
Bob Bennett must be really worried. In the past couple of weeks, a few people have come to RedState to defend Bob Bennett against our pointed criticisms of just how bad he is.
And if this is a defense of Bennett, Bennett is not defendable. . . .
Now, I wonder which Senate staffer it was. And how do I know it was a Senate staffer? We here at RedState can trace the IP address, which goes right back to the United States Senate. The most recent comment actually comes from a Comcast IP address in Virginia.
Bob Bennett and his Senate buddies must be really worried to come here and defend him in indefensible ways.
The President Pro Tempore of the Indiana Senate is throwing his support behind Marlin Stutzman only a few days after seemingly looking at supporting Dan Coats.
See also this excellent column in the Washington Examiner by Ken Tomlinson profiling Stutzman and why he is a terrific fit for Indiana.