Another debate

Last night’s debate between the eight Republican presidential contenders was put on by CNN and sponsored by the Tea Party, no less.  Wolf Blitzer presided, but he worked from questions from the Tea Party audience, which made them arguably more interesting to conservatives.

My impression is that Perry got beaten up pretty severely by the other candidates (to the point of getting boos from the Tea Party for his program of vaccinating little girls for sexually transmitted diseases and for promoting a Texas “dream act” giving illegal immigrants in-state tuition for state colleges.  Ron Paul got in trouble for blaming America for the 9/11 attacks.  Mitt Romney, on the other hand, did quite well, scoring points with conservatives and winning applause from the Tea Partiers.  Newt Gingrich put in an impressive performance, as did Rick Santorum.  Herman Cain acquitted himself well, getting across his intriguing “999″ plan (9% individual income tax; 9% corporate income tax; 9% national sales tax).  Michelle Bachmann was forceful and aggressive, but I’m not sure she inspired confidence.  Jon Huntsman didn’t do too much.  (Am I missing anything in my analysis?)

After the first debate, Michele Bachmann rose to pre-eminence.  After the second, it was Rick Perry.  Now Mitt Romney seems to be in ascendance, with ex-candidate Tim Pawlenty endorsing him and politicos reasoning that someone who calls Social Security a Ponzi scheme (which, technically, it is) can hardly win Florida.

Anyway, how do things stand with you and this election so far?  Is there any candidate you feel like supporting with great enthusiasm?  Can any of these people beat President Obama?  Which is more important to you, electability or ideological purity?

 

 

The Republican debate

Well, I thought the eight presidential candidates trying to get the Republican convention did well in their debate last night.  I hadn’t heard Perry before, and he came across well.  I was pleasantly surprised with Huntsman, who played the optimism card  (though he lost me with his slam against those who are conducting a “war on science” by questioning evolution and global warming).  Cain had good things to say.  And you’ve got to hand it to Ron  Paul, who knows what he believes and can articulately make his case.  And so does Newt Gingrich, for sure.  Rick Santorum was likeable and sincere, getting across his pro-family message.  Michelle Bachmann made sense.  And Mitt Romney was articulate and thoughtful.  (Did I compliment everyone?  I think so.)

As someone has observed, this is a Republican race, and yet the questioners ask Democratic questions.  It would be more helpful to conservative voters to hear the candidates debate conservative issues, not defend themselves from liberal charges.

Perhaps when the American public gets used to seeing these candidates, with more and more events like this, they won’t seem so scary.

And yet, I’m still undecided. And I’m still not convinced that any of these candidates can beat President Obama, despite his low approval ratings.

Your thoughts about the debate?  Have any of these candidates inspired your passionate loyalty?

 

Peace or Truth?

Michael Hannon uses a Luther quotation to get at the essential difference between liberalism and conservatism.  (And he concludes that Luther is right.)

“Peace if possible, truth at all costs!” Thus heralded Martin Luther half a millennium ago, and let no man accuse him of failing to practice what he preached. Of course, whether or not a Christian agrees with Luther’s particular interpretation of truth will determine whether he is a Catholic or a Protestant. But less obviously and perhaps more interestingly, whether or not a modern American agrees with Luther’s principle—that despite the very real goodness of peace, truth trumps it each and every time—will in large part determine whether he is a conservative or a liberal.

It’s no secret that these two contemporary political labels are problematic. Unfortunately, ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ are too often associated with just two distinct sets of seemingly randomly connected positions on the hot-button issues of our day. But perhaps the two contemporary camps identified by these labels of ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ are not as random as they seem. And perhaps Luther has presented the key for understanding their primary difference.

The question is this: Why does the pro-life camp typically align with the anti-“same-sex marriage” camp? Why are those in favor of the death penalty so often the most outspoken critics of euthanasia and assisted suicide? The answer cannot simply be partisan loyalty, for a large number of critically reflective persons today would just as soon have no affiliation with any political party.

There indeed is something deeper linking these various positions together: while the conservative agrees with Luther and recognizes truth as a higher good than peace, the liberal would again and again subordinate truth to peace for the sake of maintaining societal harmony.

Hannon goes on to apply this distinction to positions on gay marriage, abortion, and other issues.  He then analyzes the two concepts, concluding that truth has to be prior to peace, logically and in practice (otherwise, you end up losing them both).  His conclusion:

So while the liberal’s desire for peace is good, he errs in putting peace first, making toleration the summum bonum, and embracing moral relativism for the sake of avoiding conflicts. The conservative on the other hand, following in the longstanding tradition that stretches back to Aristotle and beyond, recognizes that our political order ought to follow from the moral order, which itself flows from our human nature.

Where does this battle between conservatives and liberals finally end? If our opponents emerge victorious, nowhere good. For the logical conclusion of liberalism—which liberalism fights against in the name of peace, but which liberals insofar as they are men must be led towards by the natural reason they try to suppress—is Nihilism, the most terrifying worldview imaginable. Eventually, “my truth” and “your truth” are seen for what they really mean: No truth. And a culture without any grasp of truth is a culture without any connection to reality, a culture thus doomed to die. We can still avoid demise, but to do so, we need a hefty dose of metaphysics, a serious consideration of truth to serve as the guiding principle of our civilization.

via Peace If Possible; Truth At All Costs | First Things.

The coming Obama landslide

Now that President Obama’s poll numbers are at record lows is a good time to make my prediction:  He will win re-election.  Easily.  Maybe in a landslide.

That the economy is a mess and that he has botched so many of his jobs will make no difference.  Yes, polls show any generic Republican can beat him.  But we have no generic Republicans running against him.  They are each highly particular.   And they all either turn off or scare to death the general public.

It isn’t that they are necessarily too conservative.  A conservative could have a good chance today.  But not an angry conservative.

To be sure, when Americans want their leaders to “do something” to fix the economy, that is not the best time to sell an ideology of limited government.  So actual conservative policies–as opposed to just conservative rhetoric–will be a hard sell.  But what Americans want most of all is someone to bring them out of the national funk.

The model, again, is Ronald Reagan, the cheerful and optimistic conservative, who brought us out of the malaise of Jimmy Carter.  That’s what would win today.  But there is no Ronald Reagan on the horizon, as far as I can see.

In the meantime, even though they don’t think very highly of him, Americans will go along with Obama again.  The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.  No need to change horses in midstream, all of those maxims.  He comes across as more likeable than his opponents, and I believe that–not economics–trumps everything else.

Please understand, I am not saying that the current crop of Republican candidates might not all make good presidents and better than what we have now.  I am just saying that none of them, in my opinion, is electable.

As I have said, most people hope they are right.  I find myself more often hoping that I’m wrong.

If you can shoot down my analysis, I’ll be much obliged.

Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?

Lots of Democrats are frustrated with President Obama, prompting some people to fantasize about a primary challenge from, who else?, Hillary Rodham Clinton.   Mrs. Clinton, who reportedly is doing a good job as Secretary of State, has put the kibosh on that kind of talk.  But still, it continues.   Charles Dunn writes about it here:   Hillary On The Horizon As Obama Challenger? | FoxNews.com.

I pose this question to both my conservative readers and my liberal readers:  Which would you rather have as president, Mrs. Clinton or President Obama?

Questions for secularists

New York Times editor Bill Keller came up with a series of questions about religion that he is asking presidential candidates, an inquisition necessary in order to ferret out, among other things, which ones doubt the doctrines of evolution, the equivalence of all religions, and that there is a higher law than religion, namely, secular law.  Anthony Sacramone discusses these questions and even answers them.  He then counters with “The Sacramone Questionnaire for Nontheists”:

1. Do you think that anyone who believes in the supernatural is delusional? If so, do you believe they should be treated medically? Do you believe they should be allowed to adopt children?

2. Do you think anyone who believes in six-day special creation should ipso facto be barred from holding public office?

3. Do you believe the religious beliefs of historical figures should be eradicated when discussing them in schools? For example, that Louis Pasteur was a devout Catholic who prayed the Rosary daily?

4. Do you believe that the religious faith of those responsible for the birth of modern science—Galileo, Copernicus, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Gregor Mendel, George LeMaitre (father of the theory of the big bang), Jesuit priests too numerous to mention, et al.—should be eradicated when discussing them in schools?

5. Do you believe that it should be noted that the rise of modern science occurred in the context of a civilization that was still explicitly Christian when teaching either European history of the history of science?

6. Do you think homeschooling should be illegal, as it is in some European countries?

7. Do you believe vaccines are a factor in the rise of autism cases? Do you believe parents should be allowed to opt out of vaccine programs?

8. Do you believe that global warming/climate change demands we de-industrialize?

9. Do you believe churches and all religious institutions should be taxed?

10. Do you believe that there is such a thing as life unworthy of life? Explain.

11. Do you believe assisted suicide and euthanasia should be made legal either on a state-by-state basis or by federal fiat?

12. Do you believe infanticide should be made legal? If not, when is a baby a human being protected by the rights any other human being enjoys?

13. Is there any point when an adult human being loses the right to life? If so, under what circumstances?

14. Do you believe polygamous marriage should be legalized, either on a state-by-state basis or by federal fiat? Do you believe that “minor-attracted adults” should be protected by law as a perfectly valid expression of human sexuality that was much more common in ancient Europe and among non-Western cultures? Do you believe incest and/or bestiality should be protected by law as perfectly valid expressions of human sexuality?

15. Do you believe that individuals are ultimately responsible for their behavior, or do you believe they are subject to too many internal (biochemical, psychological) and external (social pressures, strange belief systems) factors to be held accountable, such that many of our criminal laws should be seriously reformed or eradicated?

via The NY Times/Bill Keller Irreligious Litmus Test | Strange Herring.


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