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September 28, 2011

GOP Nomination News: Christie Isn't Running, Perry Is Doubling Down And Palin Is Worried About "Shackles"

Christie's speech at the Reagan Library last night was about what you'd expect...plenty of praise for Reagan and some strong attacks on the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Everybody in this room and in countless other rooms across this great country has his or her favorite Reagan story. For me, that story happened thirty years ago, in August 1981. The air traffic controllers, in violation of their contracts, went on strike. President Reagan ordered them back to work, making clear that those who refused would be fired. In the end, thousands refused, and thousands were fired.

I cite this incident not as a parable of labor relations but as a parable of principle. Ronald Reagan was a man who said what he meant and meant what he said. Those who thought he was bluffing were sadly mistaken. Reagan’s demand was not an empty political play; it was leadership, pure and simple.

Reagan said it best himself, “I think it convinced people who might have thought otherwise that I meant what I said. Incidentally, I would have been just as forceful if I thought management had been wrong in the dispute.”

I recall this pivotal moment for another reason as well. Most Americans at the time and since no doubt viewed Reagan’s firm handling of the PATCO strike as a domestic matter, a confrontation between the president and a public sector union. But this misses a critical point.

To quote a phrase from another American moment, the whole world was watching. Thanks to newspapers and television – and increasingly the Internet and social media – what happens here doesn’t stay here.

Gee, can you think of anyone else who has made a national name for themselves by taking on public unions. Who is that guy from Jersey? Oh, right.

Contrast that to Christie's view of Obama.

Yes, we hope. Because each and every time the president lets a moment to act pass him by, his failure is our failure too. The failure to stand up for the bipartisan debt solutions of the Simpson Bowles Commission, a report the president asked for himself…the failure to act on the country’s crushing unemployment…the failure to act on ever expanding and rapidly eroding entitlement programs…the failure to discern pork barrel spending from real infrastructure investment.

The rule for effective governance is simple. It is one Ronald Reagan knew by heart. And one that he successfully employed with Social Security and the Cold War. When there is a problem, you fix it. That is the job you have been sent to do and you cannot wait for someone else to do it for you.

We pay for this failure of leadership many times over. The domestic price is obvious: growth slows, high levels of unemployment persist, and we make ourselves even more vulnerable to the unpredictable behavior of skittish markets or the political decisions of lenders.

But, there is also a foreign policy price to pay. To begin with, we diminish our ability to influence the thinking and ultimately the behavior of others. There is no better way to persuade other societies around the world to become more democratic and more market-oriented than to show that our democracy and markets work better than any other system.

If only there were someone who knew how to lead. Who showed you could get Democrats to face reality about out of control spending. Who could communicate effectively enough to take their case to the public and roll over entrenched Democratic interests and bring a measure of fiscal responsibility to a government too long out of control.

When asked if he was going to run, Christie suggested people watch this video for his answer. Oh well, guess not.

In the Q and A, Christie was asked about immigration. He came out strong for enforcement and then against in-state tuition for illegal alliens saying such a policy was not "heartless". Hmmmm. I wonder who he had in mind when he said that?

Oh right, Rick Perry.

Speaking of Perry, his team has a fever and the only cure is more Perry.

Rick Perry’s widely panned debate performances? Just a hiccup. Any major changes in debate prep? None planned. His unexpected and deflating Florida straw poll loss last weekend? Not a big deal.

Even as some of his supporters grow anxious, the Texas governor’s top aides insist they have no plans for real or even symbolic changes to their campaign. The only pivot they’ll make, they say, is to become more aggressive with Mitt Romney.


“We’re not going to change what we’re doing,” said Perry spokesman Mark Miner. “It’s a long race.”

An undefeated, forward-leaning politician, Perry has become perhaps the most powerful governor in Texas history in large part because of his relentlessness. So in responding to his young campaign’s first dose of adversity, he’s doing what he’s always done: hit harder

Here's my problem with that strategy...we all know Mitt's weaknesses, faults and strengths. It's all baked into the cake. If Mitt's support is soft, it's not because people aren't sure who he is, it's because they know EXACTLY who he is. We've been running Mitt down for 4+ years, we don't need Rick Perry to tell us what the problems are. We need Perry and the other candidates to show they are better at policy, better at making the conservative case for our beliefs and better at beating Obama. To me at least it's make the pro-Perry case where Perry has been weakest. Another couple of weeks of Mitt bashing doesn't do anything to change that. My advice to Perry would be to tend to his own house first. But then that's why I'm an amateur blogger and not a highly paid political consultant.

And it's not that long of a race. The first votes will be held sometime in January with most of the nomination likely wrapped up in February.

Finally, the strange, strange case of Sarah Palin. She was on FNC last night with Gretta and was pushed pretty hard on the, "are you aren't you running" thing. Here's what she had to say about her deliberations.

“Is a title worth it?” Palin said in response to a question from Fox News host Greta Van Susteren about her presidential plans. “Does a title shackle a person? Are they — someone like me, who’s a maverick — you know, I do go rogue and I call it like I see it, and I don’t mind stirring it up in order to get people to think and debate aggressively, and to find solutions to or the problems that our country is facing.”

“Somebody like me — is a title and is a campaign too shackling?” Palin continued. “Does that prohibit me from being out there, out of a box, not allowing handlers to shape me and to force my message to be what donors or what contributors or what political pundits want it to be? Does a title take away my freedom to call it like I see it and to affect positive change that we need in this country? That’s the biggest contemplation piece in my process.”

There's a long tradition in this country of people running simply in order to get there issues into the national conversation. Granted, Palin has an existing platform but the idea that a candidate can't talk about issues is...bizarre.

She also kept talking about whether or not she needed "a title" to make a difference and influence the debate. Well, the presidency is more than a title. It actually comes with some pretty specific powers to not only influence the debate and how people think about things but to in fact change them.

Of course running and winning (which she said she thinks she could) means having to put your ideas and yourself up for actual votes, not simply the "Like" button on facebook. It means that while you can put your ideas into practice as actual policy,you have to accept responsibility for those actions and deal with those consequences.

The fact that Palin is honestly wondering if she can have a greater impact as a freelance commentator than as President indicates a fundamental lack of seriousness on her part.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:53 AM

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