Posted by TheCrossedPond @ 4:29 pm on December 19th 2007

The Crossed Pond Endorses (2008 Republican Primary)…

After much internal debate, we at The Crossed Pond have decided to follow the tradition of more mainstream sites for political opinion (the op-ed page of most newspapers) and go on record with our endorsement(s) for President. These endorsements are meant to convey not a final word or our becoming any kind of “official” site behind any given presidential candidate, but simply for us to go more formally on record with our thoughts on the upcoming Presidential primaries. Rather than dance around our own opinions, or make some artificially thinly-veiled attempt at pretending to be neutral, we hope that these endorsements both gives you some insight into where our writers are coming from, and perhaps the cases that follow will influence or clarify your own thinking on the current political races (one way or another).

We are, of course, a group blog, with six authors, and though our internal straw poll was surprisingly homogeneous (5 of our 6 authors had exactly the same Top Two choices, in different orders), some of us differ on which is their top choice and which is their second. We’ve no interest in drowning out our own variety of opinion, so to that end, you’ll note that we make, for each party, two endorsements, each signed by appropriate authors (the top signature for each piece is the author of that segment, incidentally). For both parties, the split was 4-2, so the first endorsement is backed by four authors (whose names are appended at the bottom of the endorsement), the second by two (also signed), and it just so happened that we all agreed on the final segment (Anybody But…) for each party.

So, what follows are three segments for the Republican party (the Democratic endorsements can be found here). Two endorsements, and one expression of particular distaste for one specific candidate (an anti-endorsement, as it were). I can’t promise that below contains any great surprises to regular readers, who would probably already be well aware of our own leanings and opinions, but it has proven to be an interesting exercise for us authors here at The Pond, and we hope proves interesting and thought-provoking reading.


The Crossed Pond Endorses Ron Paul for the Republican Presidential Nomination

It’s Time to Vote For Real Change

Rarely do voters have an opportunity to decisively change the direction of their party by a vote in the Presidential primary. This year, Republican voters have such an opportunity, and The Crossed Pond urges them to seize their chance by voting for Ron Paul.

The Republican party elevated itself to political preeminence in the 1980s and early 1990s by eschewing the false political pragmatism of Nixon and reasserting its most basic principles. At root, conservatism is about a simple question: what is the proper relation of a government to its citizens? Ronald Reagan told conservatives what they had known all along: that the government’s role is to protect people from force or fraud, and to otherwise get out of their way and let them go about their lives. Voters contrasted the clarity of Reagan’s message with the answer given by liberals—that the government’s role is to engage in programmatic remedies for societal inequalities—and found Reagan’s answer superior.

It is strange that the Republican party has eschewed the principles that brought it to prominence; yet an assessment of this year’s Presidential field, and of modern Republican leaders, proves this to be the case. Mike Huckabee (along with the incumbent President) appears to accept fully the liberal precept that the proper role of government is to solve people’s problems for them, both at home and abroad. John McCain believes that government’s role is to promote an amorphously defined “national greatness”, treating hegemony as an end in itself. Rudy Giuliani believes that government’s role is to provide perfect security for everyone, and that citizens must subordinate their liberties to an all-powerful executive for that purpose. Mitt Romney believes that government’s role is to affirm civic virtue. Ron Paul is the only candidate whose philosophy of government is fundamentally consistent with the conservative principles which drove the both the Reagan Revolution and the Contract With America.

Many voters who share Dr. Paul’s general philosophy of government may be uncomfortable with some of the ways the candidate interprets that philosophy in terms of policy. Indeed, we share some of those concerns. There is no writer at this blog that accepts Dr. Paul’s policy agenda in its entirety. Some of us disagree with him on the degree to which fundamentalist Islam threatens the west; others are uncomfortable with his views on gay rights, or even his friendship with Dennis Kucinich. Yet there is no candidate with whom any voter will agree across the board, and no reason to hold Dr. Paul to a higher standard than other candidates in this regard.

Moreover, we agree with Dr. Paul on the issues of greatest import—those which concern government’s proper role. The present administration’s position is that the executive branch ought to have perpetual war powers, including the authority to identify, detain, and torture anyone on earth, without jurisdictional limits and without the prospect of judicial review. Very few of the Republican Presidential candidates have challenged any portion of this position, and only Dr. Paul rejects it entirely. Similarly, in its role as provider, the government has taken upon itself long-term obligations stretching into the trillions of dollars, and seems unconcerned with the fact that future generations will have to pay the bill. Dr. Paul stands alone in calling for the sort of fundamental, paradigmatic change that will meaningfully address these matters.

Some have contended that Paul’s unwillingness to compromise—he is famous for his refusal to vote for any form of congressional spending not explicitly authorized by the constitution–will render him similarly unable to govern. In truth, the most radical overreaches of the incumbent administration, including those surrounding extraordinary rendition and torture, can be resolved just as easily as they were initiated, through executive order. From this perspective, the single most important governing skill is the political courage to do so. Paul’s broader agenda might be less achievable, but from our perspective, the prospect of legislative gridlock and frequent vetoes is a lot less frightening than the prospect of another “compassionate conservative” with a mandate to implement an expensive or imperialist agenda.

Some would use the worst of Dr. Paul’s supporters as an argument against him. The Crossed Pond has provided extensive coverage of inappropriate behavior and extremism within the Paul movement. We know whereof we speak on this matter, and we find it to be entirely irrelevant where the merits of the candidate himself are concerned. No candidacy would be worthy of endorsement were one to focus on its worst supporters. The typical Ron Paul supporter is intelligent, polite, and possessed of a genuine and perfectly sincere enthusiasm which ought to be respected, not condemned.

Finally, there are those who are reluctant to cast a “wasted vote” for a candidate who is unlikely to secure the Republican nomination. We feel that Ron Paul does indeed have a chance, albeit a small one, of winning the nomination. However, even if we did not believe this, we would still endorse his candidacy. Why, after all, does one vote in the first place? A vote for Ron Paul is an unambiguous and unmistakable signal to the party that it needs to change direction. There is no other Republican candidate of whom that can be said; a vote for any other candidate is a repudiation of core limited-government principles, and to a greater or lesser extent, an endorsement of the current way of doing business. Indeed, even should Paul fail to win the nomination, a strong showing on his part will have multiple beneficial effects within the party. It will signal that adherence to principle, as opposed to continual compromise for its own sake, can be rewarded. It will demonstrate the existence of a small-government constituency which is necessary as an element in any winning Republican coalition, and politically powerful in its own right. All of this will happen to an extent directly proportional to the number of voters who demonstrate their support. In a pragmatic sense, then, a vote for Ron Paul counts for MORE, win or lose, than a vote for any other candidate.

Ron Paul himself is a man whose virtues—honor, consistency, humility, and foresight—reflect those which a government under his leadership would practice. His tactics may be revolutionary, but his purpose is restorative—a return to the small-government conservatism that has produced both Republican electoral success and national prosperity in the past. We at The Crossed Pond feel privileged to endorse this most unique of American statesmen.

Rojas
Brad
James
Jack


The Crossed Pond Endorses John McCain for the Republican Presidential Nomination

Marrying Efficacy with Integrity

Perhaps the most important lesson of the 2000 election – which took
place at a time when things were, in general, pretty damn good – and
the 7 years that have followed it is that there is never a time when
electing the President is unimportant. This means that selecting a
nominee is never unimportant. As a corollary of this, we should never
convince ourselves that now, this moment, is somehow uniquely special
in its importance, that we need a special candidate now, that
circumstances are sufficiently exceptional to short-circuit the normal
decision-making criteria.

The President should be picked for competence and the correct
positions on the whole range of issues that may confront him or her.
We can’t know which will be the most important issues during the
course of the presidency – if we could, we could just vote on those
issues directly, now, and put a computer in charge – so we have to
select a candidate with the fullest range of abilities and correct
opinions. Our candidate, the candidate who, for the reasons discussed
above, should represent the Republican party in the 2008 election and
who should be President, is John McCain.

We are aware that a strong case for McCain himself can be made based
on the situational politics that dominate much of the campaigning in
this, and every, election cycle; the immigration bill, on which McCain
bravely held the correct position, shows the need for a candidate of
McCain’s vision. The promising early results from the ‘surge’, an
effort that McCain had been calling for and which he supported despite
the political risk, illustrate his moral and strategic robustness, as
did his earlier, entirely correct, criticism of administration
incompetence in the administration of the effort in Iraq. Indeed,
these examples clearly do illustrate McCain’s intrinsic worth, but to
tie ourselves to the observation that McCain is the best candidate to
deal with current concerns over Iraq, immigration, economy or growing
protectionism is to obscure the most important fact that McCain is the
best candidate for dealing with the potentialities which will define
any President’s success or failure.

A further temptation we eschew is the temptation to list why you
should not support the other candidates; we believe that a
well-informed reader will see where the other candidates are deficient
as we proceed with the discussion of the qualities that make McCain
the best candidate for nomination and for President.

The principal areas which we shall discuss are political positions,
competence and character. These are the essential intrinsic parameters
to consider in judging a candidacy.

John McCain is a supporter of free trade and an opponent of subsidies;
McCain understands that free trade, with its competitive environment,
brings out the best in the participants, which enriches us all. McCain
understands that a free trade in labour is also an essential component
of free trade; he has avoided the populist rabble-rousing of the
immigration restrictionists and kept his bearings amidst wild
accusations and specious attacks by make-believe conservatives. John
McCain has opposed torture when the party base have turned a
sanctimonious blind eye and he understands that the benefits of
upholding moral standards are worth the consequent difficulties. John
McCain, furthermore, has understood the importance of American
influence abroad and has steadfastly supported the position that the
US must bear responsibility for its actions regardless of short-term
pain and handwringing from emotionally-mastered idealists. Time and
again, John McCain has taken the authentic conservative
position on issues regardless of emotive appeals to parochialism, fear
and partisanship.

John McCain has been one of the most successful members of the US
Senate. In a venomous and divided DC environment, McCain has been able
to find compromises to further legislation based on sound logic,
despite kneejerk partisanship and demagoguery from Senate colleagues
of both parties. John McCain can set aside past and current
differences, finding and shielding allies along the way, to pursue the
legislation that the nation needs. Indefatigable, John McCain keeps
working until the debate shifts; rather than changing his position to
suit current popular, but fallacious, positions. McCain has stayed
true to conservative values even whilst the party has lost its way;
the ‘maverick’ label does not just reflect McCain’s steadfastness in
the face of perfidious Republican short-termism but also reminds us
that the Republican party, if it is to remain the party most aligned
with conservative values, needs McCain’s leadership. John McCain the
president will not be a signatory to a free-wheeling partisan
boondoggle nor an angry irrelevance unable to work with Congress;
McCain has successfully threaded the needle of being both an effective
and a principled politician and we have faith that he will
continue to do so as President. Furthermore, he is the Republican with
the best chance of beating the Democratic nominees; that shouldn’t be
the deciding factor but it is, nevertheless, a welcome addition to
McCain’s list of virtues.

Finally, John McCain is a man of great character. Whilst it is
generally hard to judge the worth of the candidate as a man or woman,
due to the relatively unexceptional circumstances in which most
happily live their lives, during his imprisonment in Vietnam John
McCain was put to a test more extreme than the vast majority of people
will ever experience. As is well-known, McCain acquitted himself in
the most honourable and courageous manner possible despite facing
terrible privation and the chance to defensibly escape it whilst
leaving others behind; it should not reflect poorly on the other
candidates that they have never faced such a test of their fibre, but
it shows us the intrinsic value of John McCain the man,
giving us the best possible foundation for faith that he will, as
President, do what is right regardless of how much personal harm he
may suffer as a result.

Other candidates can be judged, as best we can, by their actions in
the course of the more conventional challenges thrown their way by
political life – a consideration in which, for reasons implicit in the
previous narrative on McCain’s policy positions and competence, we
believe that McCain still wins hands-down – but it would be foolish to
ignore the fact that John McCain came through a terrible test not just
with his honour intact but, rather, with his honour enhanced.

We should not concern ourselves greatly with the obvious missed
opportunities; that John McCain was the best choice for Republican
nominee and for President in 2000 must be apparent to nearly everyone.
We must simply consider that John McCain is the best candidate in the
present, as he is for any other time, and vote for him now, in the
present.

Adam
Mark


Anybody But Rudolph Giuliani

Do Not Want

When I was asked to write this piece, I jumped at opportunity. Giuliani, to my horror, was the front runner amongst Republicans. I felt strongly that the man was simply not qualified to be president, and someone needed to say something. The words that poured from his mouth echoed eight years of failed Bush foreign policy, based upon machismo and jingoism. His record of cronyism and value of loyalty above all else also mimicked the errors of the current administration. And while most politicians are not pure as the driven snow in their personal lives either, Mr. Giuliani’s flouting of his personal affairs, his poor public treatment of his own wife (not to mention colleagues, employees, the press, and civic leaders), and the fact that he made such an appalling drag queen, smacked of bad judgment, unbecoming of a presidential candidate.

Shortly after I agreed to write this, Joe Biden, when pressed to criticize Hillary Clinton, instead passed on that opportunity, repeatedly insisting on pointing out that Mr. Giuliani was “genuinely not qualified to be president” (1). Not long after that, Ron Paul also publicly stated that Giuliani is not suited for the presidency, given his determination and dedication to a policy that undermines our national defense, calling him “misinformed” (2).

On the personal front, you don’t have to be a saint to be a good leader. FDR slept with his secretary. JFK slept with hot chicks. Bill Clinton slept with fat chicks. GW Bush snorted cocaine. That said, most of these presidents didn’t relish their personal failures publicly, and at least attempted to keep their proclivities from influencing their job performance. Mr. Giuliani, however, has made public (private) decisions worthy of the foulest soap opera. His poor judgment regarding his second divorce, his marital affairs. His estrangement from his children. Marrying his cousin.

Marrying his cousin.

Which leads us to the concern that Mr. Giuliani allows his very poor personal judgment to negatively influence his professional life. And the fact that loyalty to him as a person seems to be the most important point on Mr. Giuliani’s list of characteristics. Unfortunately, loyalty can be an easy thing to fake, and Mr. G. doesn’t seem to mind looking the other way while his loyalists skim from the coffers. The biggest case in point is that of Bernie Kerik. Giuliani was good friends with the man who was his police chief. He pressed for him to be appointed as head of DHS. Somehow, he did not notice that Kerik was living well above his means. Kerik’s main justification seems to be that his public servant salary was too low (it “felt like he was on welfare”)(3). This from a man that went from being Giuliani’s driver to Chief of Police in only 6 years.

It has been argued that Giuliani is at his best when facing an enemy. This is certainly part of what made him a good prosecutor. It allowed him to shine when taking down criminal elements in New York, shutting down strip clubs on Times Square, and it allowed him to unite New York against an outside enemy, the terrorists in 9-11. At the end of the day, the bulldog attributes that made Mr. Giuliani an excellent criminal prosecutor, make him severely unfit to serve as president.

It also meant that when there was no clear enemy, in New York, Giuliani did not fare well, frequently alienating those who could have been allies. This is not a good attribute for the president, a position where one must have the ‘power to persuade’ in order to implement policy.

In the War on Terror, as we enter a global insurgency, where our enemies and friends are less identifiable, Mr. Paul was right to point out that Giuliani’s strategy, which echoes that of the Bush Administration, is backwards, and that he has learned no lessons since 9-11. This is largely, I would argue, because he is only comfortable in realms where he has a clear enemy.

In addition, while Giuliani was focused on ‘fighting crime’ (an enemy), he failed in the more mundane management of the NYC security sector. Even though it was clear in 1993 that NYC was a terrorist target, the 9-11 commission report criticizes the city for having poorly networked its first-responders (Police, Firefighters, Medical, etc) for the crisis response. Moreover, in spite of recommendations that a center for coordinating crisis management needed to be in a location away from major targets, Mayor Giuliani insisted on keeping the response center in the WTC because it was within walking distance of city hall (the Center was destroyed in the 9-11 attacks, forcing the response to be run from temporary stations around the city). These were problems that could have been mitigated with better city management (4).

Giuliani’s ability to say and do the wrong thing at the wrong time is perhaps highlighted by his handling of the Patrick Dorismond killing (in a city on tenterhooks after the Amadou Diallo shooting). Giuliani’s release of the dead man’s sealed juvenile file and his smears of the deceased man’s character arguably contributed to his loss of several points in the polls to H. Clinton in the NY senatorial race.

Meanwhile, many of Giuliani’s tactics to deal with New York’s problems would not work on a national level. For example, Giuliani got homeless people off the streets by literally sending them to other cities (5). While an elegant, albeit temporary, solution to NYC’s ‘blight’, it would be, unfortunately, unconstitutional to ship all of America’s homeless to another country.

The legacy of Giuliani’s aggressive, prosecutorial style can also still be seen in the NY education system, which remains to this day ailing and unreformed, and though he entered office with a promise to clear New York’s debt, he, despite the late 90’s tech boom, left the office of mayor with the city a staggering $4.5 billion dollars in debt.

His flash judgment, and readiness to assume that he knows more than others around him has lead to appalling decisions that negatively affect the lives of others. Certainly that was true for New York, and, if we’re unlucky enough, could be true for all Americans. Giuliani’s hubris in his personal and public life frequently serve him well, allowing him to charge forward with his chosen policies, or to prosecute criminals. Sadly, when he is wrong, the weakest members of our society are trampled.

Mark
Adam
Brad
Rojas
James
Jack

13 Comments »

  1. Giuliani really is horrific.

    Comment by Adam — 12/19/2007 @ 7:24 pm

  2. Yeah, but it’s a dry horrific.

    Comment by James — 12/19/2007 @ 10:32 pm

  3. Hah

    Comment by Adam — 12/19/2007 @ 10:35 pm

  4. I agree with the Gang of 4 reference Dr. Paul and your “do not want” of Giuliani and for much the same reasons.

    Comment by Coogan — 12/19/2007 @ 11:35 pm

  5. I’m a little curious how the two lists mingle. Like Mark, you support Dodd and McCain. If those two were the nominees, who’d you pick in the general election?

    Comment by Cameron — 12/19/2007 @ 11:47 pm

  6. Speaking only for myself, my order of preference for the entire field is:

    1. Paul
    2. McCain
    3. Obama
    4. AB Giuliani
    5. AB Clinton
    6. AB Edwards
    7. Default LP vote (unless it’s Paul)

    Usually my default LP option is above my AB options. Not this time. I despise the AB candidates enough to vote for a mediocre major-party opponent just to spite them.

    Comment by Rojas — 12/20/2007 @ 12:10 am

  7. Paul, McCain or armed rebellion works for me.

    Comment by James — 12/20/2007 @ 12:33 am

  8. I’m a little curious how the two lists mingle. Like Mark, you support Dodd and McCain. If those two were the nominees, who’d you pick in the general election?

    Comment by Cameron

    Good question.

    Firstly, I am obviously non-partisan (and in fact, I can’t vote in this country).

    Dodd meshes far more closely with me on several issues than McCain does, however, my two main sticking points are Dodd’s 9 months withdrawal from Iraq (though, he does support continued training and equipping of Iraqi’s, which is a must for any candidate of mine), and the fact that he is by far the less electable of the two men. On the latter basis I would go with McCain.

    Comment by Mark — 12/20/2007 @ 10:59 am

  9. I think, assuming Dodd got to the point where he was the nominee (which is obviously a big assumption, but one the question demands we accept), he would be as electable as anybody.

    Comment by Brad — 12/20/2007 @ 11:54 am

  10. I don’t think Dodd has the charisma to carry a nomination.

    Comment by Mark — 12/20/2007 @ 11:57 am

  11. Really? I do. It’s never been about charisma in my opinion. Biden has all kinds of charisma. It’s just that without the Kiss of Viability, charisma doesn’t necessarily get you anywhere.

    Certainly we’ve had some uncharismatic nominees (Dole, Kerry), and some very charismatic lovable losers (Edwards, Huckabee (that one’s a guess).

    I think Dodd’s problem more than anything is he’s just never had the oxygen needed to fan any kind of fire. The Clinton-Obama-Edwards triumvirate have set the campaign narrative and sucked all the air out of the room from the beginning.

    Comment by Brad — 12/20/2007 @ 12:01 pm

  12. Dodd clearly has some hurdles, like lack of cash, but I think that the reason that he wouldn’t be particularly electable is also a partial cause of the nomination hurdles he has. He really isn’t particularly charismatic, as evidenced by the fact that people find themselves liking Dodd after seeing him in a few debates as if he creeps up on them in a stealthy way. That’s fine if it started way back but I think that as a strategy for grabbing attention, it’s a bit slow. Were he to win the nomination, sure he’d have a lot more cash and attention almost automatically, but I think that his underlying approach is still too incremental (which makes a great deal of sense, logically, but perhaps not electorally).

    Comment by Adam — 12/24/2007 @ 9:43 am

  13. I only have to think about mandatory health insurance to see no dems are superior to MBarak Osama.

    Comment by scineram — 12/24/2007 @ 2:36 pm

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