How conservatives choose between competing candidates all claiming to be "the true conservative" (TTC) in a primary in sometimes simply a study in contrasts, not just a matter of listening to what they promise to do in the future, not simply studying their past track record in life but also seeing how they handle the normal and ordinary pressures of a campaign, including debates and articles written about them.
Indeed, some of those putting themselves forward in the public policy process, like for example the Barry Goldwater of 1964, appeared to be oblivious to what was being said about them by others and how people reacted to their statements.
While I admire resolve and a willingness to stand your ground regardless of what others say, on the other hand, success in the political arena does also call for another quality, perhaps the critical failure of Lee at Gettysburg who was absent his cavalry "eyes" and ability to see and react to what his adversary was doing. Like Goldwater he charged on ahead anyway and like Goldwater, not a good result for his "Glorious Cause."
I have heard it (recently) called "temperament" by State Rep. Scott Perry, one of 7 candidates seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Representative here in a very "red state" congressional district in south central Pennsylvania (see my earlier report here in RED STATE).
On reflection, the ability to handle the office sought with a good balance of standing by your principles but also reacting to your adversary and to what others are doing, can be called "temperament."
Sadly, by that criteria, Barry Goldwater's candidacy, which I admire as an historical achievement within the GOP, was doomed from the start. He simply did not have the temperament to really handle the Presidency and this was evidenced by how he comported himself during the campaign.
Of course I'd prefer someone who is conservative with a good track record and a lousy temperament over a perfectly wonderful and "non-temperamental" candidate (ironically the name for someone whose temperament is not held worthy) who is a flaming liberal. I'd have voted for Goldwater were I a 1964 primary or general election voter, even as I today concede that perhaps he doesn't score so well on "temperament."
I would be delighted to hear what criteria other mainstream conservatives use to select who to work for, who to donate to, who to speak out for, who to vote for, in contested GOP primaries where several candidates put forward credible claims to our allegiance.
For me, I am willing to add to my shopping list of criteria the word "temperament" as suggested this past Monday night at the GOP debate among the candidates for this Congressional seat, and to use that as an additional yardstick.
I always feel delighted if more than one suitor wants to take me to the dance.
And having several claiming to love Ronald Reagan, to be TTC (The True Conservative - more often heard in GOP primaries than in general elections and surely after August 2012, not to be heard again for a few years), to be the one most ready to fight for us, should delight us in any primary, whether it is local, state or federal office.
Of course hiding in the midst of this crop of these claimants on our affections as conservatives, are your standard politicians and your smooth tongued orators.
It is standard procedure in recent years to denounce everybody who is either an attorney or who has previously held any political office. Of course, the person doing that has not practiced law and is inexperienced and so, sadly, is untested in the political battles he will face.
Hence, the campaign process is an opportunity, albeit imperfect, to test how do they react to the pressures and the ability to work with others, to react to what others are saying and doing?
For example, the fact that a Barack Obama is the perfect Tea Party candidate when he ran for President - inexperienced in office and relatively little known - doesn't mark up his ratings in my eyes, although many other people liked that contrast versus the "veteran politician" he faced, Senator John McCain, four years ago.
While I generally subscribe to the famous dictum of Wm. F. Buckley, who I greatly admire, that we would nominate the person who is the most conservative but (critical point) who also stands the best chance of winning in the general election, two important caveats apply to this popular idea.
First, I noted the very humble offering recently by the highly regarded Charles Krauthammer - whose credentials are enhanced enormously by the hatred of the loony leftists in our ranks whose "best" shot at him is to call him "neocon" because they do not agree with his ideas on foreign policy and defense.
Krauthammer admitted that, although he offered his opinion that Romney was going to be the GOP nominee for President - and he should, added Krauthammer, using Buckley's criteria - it is nonetheless a matter of some judgment as to WHICH candidate has the best chance in the general election, not a matter of statistical certainty.
And so while I very much admire Krauthammer and usually agree with his suggestions, in this particular instance, politely and respectfully I must add (is that allowed in writing in RED STATE - oh yes, it is REQUIRED or they ban people those unable/unwilling to be respectful), dissent that the candidate who best meets this criteria is Mitt Romney. I believe it is, as I wrote yesterday, Rick Santorum.
But the remarkable (ie. worthy of remarking) point about Krauthammer's and the undersigned's disagreement is that we leave plenty of room for respect for those who don't agree with us.
And that brings me to the point or thesis of today's article, even as I await further advice from fellow RED STATERS as to HOW others here who I respect, choose between competing claims of suitors in GOP primaries, that they alone are the "true conservative" who also meets the Buckley criteria.
In the new 4th district where a free for all between 7 candidates who all claim they are TTC, I wrote two days ago of how they comported themselves, what is their track record and what are they promising in this past Monday's York County GOP debate.
And, of the bunch, if there are several who emerge from that three part test favorably, then of the remnant, which is the one who has the best chance to win?
In other words, "the best chance to win" plays a role but, if there were two liberals who emerged from the three part test - temperament, track record, pledge for the future, why would I really care which one of them has the better track record?
I wasn't suggesting that of two candidates, I would use the first, three part test, to see which is less liberal but which one makes me and all of us conservatives, comfortable that on an objective future scale of measurement such as an ACU or Heritage rating, that our choice will score reasonably well and not be an embarrassment to us and a danger to the Republic.
So WHO ARE YOU - your background - making the promises, is very important.
WHAT do you propose, now that we know who you are, who seeks our support in a GOP primary?
WHAT are you chances to win, only after the above is completed, and only if there's more than one still being considered.
And, if more than one of above - and Goldwater comes to mind as an example when there was NOT more than one - ONLY NOW should I concern myself with the candidate's "temperament."
The more "progressive" Republicans will of course, wish to focus FIRST on "my experience" and seconded on "my temperament." Of course they will. But I take exception to their order.
I wrote two days ago using these four criteria about a case in point, an open seat in the a very red state part of Pennsylvania, a district which has a 60% rated conservative (if you wish to call him this) Congressman in a 90% district and where I do believe we can and should do better in after this year's GOP primary on April 24.
The pressure and reaction of the campaign - what Rep. Scott Perry (one of the 7 candidates) calls "temperament" - helped change my view of the ranking (in my own mind) of the claimants for conservatives' affection in this district.
One candidate - the nice youngster who was running as Ron Paul's stand in here - wasn't much mentioned because he offered little reason for a conservative to vote for him.
Of the remaining 6, the one who I had started out before I wrote of this debate thinking would be in last place, emerged in the top four because of both (the appearance of) his temperament during the debate and critically, because he alone seems to understand that the nice but not very smart lady asking the questions, such as hers about the existential threat (so she seems to think) posed by Syria, could be ignored.
He chose to point out that the threat from Iran's building a nuclear weapon was the clear threat.
It was Kevin Downs alone of the 7 candidates who stated what should be obvious - Israel's ability to "go it alone" is severely impaired without the American "bunker buster" bomb AND an air platform capable of carrying it to its target to take out the nuclear threat to America and to Israel, and he fully supported helping Israel get the job done. That moved him from last place in my book up to the top 4.
The contenders I held in highest regard after reviewing details about the debate, their track record, their pledges, their temperament and the views of a few people present in the room who I respect, were Rep. Scott Perry, York County Commissioner Chris Reilly, and Ted Waga.
And the one who had started out (in my mind) near the top of the list, Sean Summers, went into dead last place.
I have heard from three of those candidates who I reported on and in all three cases, I consider it very noteworthy what they had to say.
I'll defer to another column, my report on what Ted Waga and Sean Summers said, noting that they very specifically appealed to my sense of fairness to report their reactions to what I said about them.
While they are of course, free to use the internet to put out their own message, in both cases they did persuade me to return to this topic and to their response. So I will, later.
But Scott Perry of the three of them who I respect the most, showed that he is "in the battle" right now - and in effect, created an additional criteria for us to consider, by what he is doing.
I have written a little bit critically of Perry as one of the 28 (I have now heard that it is actually 40) GOP state representatives who withdrew their sponsorship of House Bill 1077, the "Women's Right to Know" bill (called "the ultra sound bill" by others), despite it being reported out of committee.
Many of the Pennsylvania values voters who I try to speak for in these pages, have been severely disappointed by what they consider as a retreat from the battle line right in the midst of the Battle - indeed after the committee has reported out the bill to the floor for a vote.
Many of these "traditional" and Christian-activist voters are asking "How did we manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of the pending victory?"
Perry is of course, alone of the 7 candidates for this congressional seat, in the midst of that important battle. And of the 40 legislators who retreated, HE is the one standing before us today asking for elevation to a seat in the Congress.
And so now, in a curious reversal of ancient history, we have the appearance of two of the successors of Daniel, two Christian pastors in York County, PA, placing the government guy into their Lions Den.
Of course the two pastors I am going to tell you about will balk at this characterization I have made in good fun because while they are firm and uncompromising in what they seek, they are also the very perfect symbol of Christian humility and politeness (unlike your undersigned correspondent... bless me Father, for I have sinned.... again).
So now comes Rep. Scott Perry, our modern day Daniel, this coming Wednesday, to meet with Father Samuel Houser, the pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church in York city, PA and the York County Chairman of "Americans for Christian Traditions in our Nation" (ACTION of PA).
The Pastors wish to specifically discuss the attack on religious liberty in America, the future of HB 1077, his stance on this legislation, and what they can do to help this cause so important to them, to suffer the little children to come unto me and not harm a hair on their head. They want to hear him out, but they are looking for results in Harrisburg and in Washington, DC.
Rep. Scott Perry, who is in the midst of the battle in the state legislature on HB 1077, has already helped secure passage of a number of bills of importance to conservatives.
And in some way that you and I dear reader, may or may not understand, Daniel in the Lions Den is going to face a critical question when the "gate opens" and he is sitting at the St. Catholic Church conference table facing Father Houser and Pastor Gibson: what can be done to make HB 1077 law?
Planned Parenthood has admitted it ALREADY does an ultra sound image of the baby of the expectant mother, but doesn't want to show it to the mother.
The legislation the Pastors support, forces Planned Parenthood to offer this option to the pregnant mother before she aborts.
Planned Parenthood and their allies want no impediment in the way of a speedy abortion and their ability to collect another fee.
I will submit here a recent message from Scott Perry and, in a future column, report on the messages that I received from Ted Waga and Sean Summers on their quest for this open Congressional set.
I must add the relevant observation: Ted Waga has consistently voiced support for HB 1077, and I have reported in this space how he has made phone calls to state legislators on this topic.
I have also stated that I have at least one report that Sean Summers isn't interested, nor have I see anything on his website or in his new communication to me, to indicate his interest in this or any other religious liberty issue.
Here is a slightly edited version (ie. shortened) of Scott Perry's letter to those he is meeting with on Wednesday at St. Patrick Church in York, PA.
In my judgment this is "Exhibit A" that he does in fact, have the temperament - as he said in this past Monday's debate - to be a United States Congressman.
This letter from Rep. Scott Perry should weigh in his favor with any of us who are conservative and who placed importance on what Rick Santorum called "the centrality of faith" in my life.
I remain undecided on this April 24 election but, on my appreciation to Rick Perry for this letter and for his upcoming meeting with two honorable and worthy men of God, Pastors Houser and Gibson, I thank him.
Message of Scott Perry to Father Samuel Houser and Pastor Ken Gibson:
I am writing in response to a discussion I had with one of your members... I understand that all of you have expressed strong support for passage of HB 1077, the Women's Right to Know bill, and that you may be interested in learning more about what efforts can be made to affect passage of legislation - which I fully support - to accomplish two principal objectives:
a. that a practice generally already conducted, an ultra sound for women who are thought to be but not confirmed to be pregnant, should be completed, and that usually this confirms both the pregnancy and the gestational age of the child, although there are occasions in which the external ultrasound cannot confirm this requirement and therefore alternative measures may be required to confirm this information, and,
b. that the ultra sound information (imaging regarding individual health) as a matter of law, should be required to be provided to the patient and not withheld by any party which wishes to conduct an abortion, despite the fact that this may jeopardize their fees if the procedure is then canceled as a result.
I witnessed protestors attending Rick Santorum’s Gettysburg event carrying "no vaginal probe" signs and know that even though no such language exists in the bill, the left has rallied the appearance of strong public support for their opposition to HB 1077.
Therefore in any meeting in which you may be willing to participate I can assure you of very strong interest on the part of the undersigned and those who should be supporting your position on HB 1077 or similar legislation, as to what you are able and willing to do to help muster strong support for our position and how we may be able to assist you in such efforts.
Also, you should be aware that I removed my name from cosponsorship of the legislation more on administrative and trust lines than on philosophical differences. The bill was changed without notification to co-sponsors and as such I was mis-informing the constituents I serve regarding the tenets of the legislation. I was disappointed in this action and remain concerned as I have been informed that the bill is currently under review/revision, and I never want to be in a position of supporting a bill that may have components that are contrary to what I believe to be in the best interest of the efforts I support.
You should also know that I was contacted by the PA Pro-Life Federation who confided in me that they did not believe the bill was ready for release as it currently stands and that they were not comfortable with the circumstance in which it was moved through committee and to the floor.
You are no doubt aware that the legislature does not operate in a vacuum but that we all do our best to be responsive, as best we can, to the interests and will of the people who elected us to represent them.
We balance this with our own philosophy and faith of course.
Therefore, I am eager to meet with you at your convenience to have this discussion and hopefully make plans together for what can be accomplished moving forward to secure the rights of both the expectant mother and the unborn baby. I am dedicated to that goal and most interested in having any help you can provide in this battle, which so far, is rather one-sided against us.
I would be delighted to know that assistance is forthcoming, and that I can tell the media and other interested parties, we did not retreat but, in the words of Sarah Palin, as her father once said "we are reloading." God bless each of you for the good work that you do, and especially for your hospitality at your breakfast last month at which I spoke.
Sincerely, SCOTT PERRY (State Representative)"
This letter from Scott Perry shows several critically important things:
First and foremost, he is willing to ask for help on an issue he knows is very important to values voters. The Planned Parenthood forces, as I have reported in this space, have generated two to three times more emails and phone calls at legislators for their position than our side has.
If our people are too busy to learn how to use Twitter, facebook, email and other social media and internet tools, and too busy to do the nitty gritty work involved in what is called GOTO (get out the voter) then the other side will always carry the day in close battles such as HB 1077.
Second, issues - not money and not the "power of the people" sloganeering of the 1960's left, the 2012 Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, are the mothers milk of politics.
Money is the mothers milk of politics? Wrong.
That is the party line of the liberal left echoed by some of the Tea Party "leaders" who are new, ignorant or have an agenda not consistent with conservative philosophy. Instead of just complaining that your opponent always has more money why not learn this truth:
ISSUES are the "mothers milk of politics."
HB 1077 is an issue.
It is an important issue to several small but influential sectors of the electorate - especially those who vote in primaries in the Democratic and Republican parties.
HB 1077 is being used to fundraising, recruit, educate, and mobilize the left in Pennsylvania, recently in Virginia and in other states.
There are plenty of Republicans who, hearing the sound of the liberal-left's guns, run as fast as they can, the OTHER way.
There are a few Republicans - like State Senator Pat Vance - who actually are in the front rank of THE OTHER SIDE on issues like this - which is why I labeled her a "Planned Parenthood's favorite PA GOP State Senator" in a recent column where I where I reported on the challenge of articulate conservative challenger Andy Shaw in the April 24 primary.
The question is, with an issue like HB 1077, the "Women's Right to Know" legislation, is this an example of how the OTHER SIDE uses issues to mobilize and recruit volunteers and donors to beat us?
Or will it be an issue where our side animates enough people to return fire, overwhelm the other side, and even win a few races - like Andy Shaw's - and enable State Rep. Scott Perry to go to his colleagues and say ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH.
I will look forward to hearing whether there is an answer to this question after the Wed. meeting between two heroic champions of our cause, each of whom has time and again stood up in the pulpit and in the public square to say to their congregation and to anyone who will listen to them, OF COURSE you should register to vote, you should vote, and you should ONLY vote for candidates who are God fearing men and women of integrity who share your VALUES.
Father Samuel Houser and Pastor Ken Gibson speak for me and millions of 'values voters" in America and I hope and indeed I pray, that their influence will increase at and after their meeting with State Representative Scott Perry this coming Wednesday.
I humbly thank Rep. Perry for going into the presence of these two humble men of God, to hear of their concerns, and to share with them a report of the battle in Harrisburg, PA to tame Planned Parenthood, and to allow pregnant women the right to see the ultra-sound image of their unborn baby.
If only a few percent of the expectant mothers see their own flesh and blood baby and relent and say "I cannot kill my baby" this meeting may play a part in that happening, and as an issue, may be in fact, "the mothers milk of politics" that helps make a difference between who wins and who loses on April 24 and in 2012.
It is sad that in America today there will be critics condemning Rep. Perry for his willingness to listen to two men of God share their concerns with him and as I fully expect them to do, accept their prayers and blessings on him. I expect only good to come of this meeting and I look forward to hearing some details that I can share with you here.
HanoverHenry of RED STATE is Pat Henry on Facebook, and I'm on the lookout for new friends there. You can also communicate via private mail at Facebook, and I welcome new sources for my articles focusing on the conservative-Christian viewpoint in Pennsylvania. I appreciate your sharing this article elsewhere and only ask that you include this "disclaimer" in any reprints or sharing you do. And I thank those whose information have helped me with some of my reports, including those who do not wish to be quoted by name.
Links to articles I wrote at RED STATE at my Facebook Notes section.