September 29, 2010

Delaware's Sore Loser?

News that Mike Castle (R-DE) might consider a write-in campaign has many on the right up in arms over the audacity of this “sore loser” (  Comparisons are being made (  between Castle and the decision by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to mount a write in campaign for the Senate seat in Alaska after being soundly thumped by Joe Miller in their primary.  I want to take a moment to explain why I believe the comparisons are unfair.

Murkowski is tilting at windmills (, driven by her own ego to mount an effort that will at best be futile and will at worst hand the seat to a liberal Democrat who is out of the Alaskan mainstream.  Murkowski did not endure any underhanded tactics at the hands of the Miller campaign, she was not slandered, and no one lied about her record, her background, or her history.  She lost, period.  Joe Miller was a superior candidate.  He deserved to win.  Lisa Murkowski is a liberal Republican running in a conservative state that got her hat handed to her.  The Senate will be better for not having her there and any questions about her character were answered when she allowed her ego to get in the way of what’s best for, not only Alaska, but also our country.

As for Mike Castle, let’s start by conceding that Delaware is not Alaska.  As a member of Congress, Castle voted pretty much where his state is – moderate to liberal.   Bear in mind that this is the state that gave us Joe Biden for heaven’s sake.  The Senate race in Delaware, like the race in Illinois, is extremely important for one reason – the winner will be seated immediately.  Remember, Biden vacated the seat when he became Vice-President (same situation with the Obama seat in Illinois).  Therefore, the winner in Delaware will be seated for the lame duck session and has an opportunity to stop any mischief the Democrats might try to foist upon the American people.

Anyway, I digress.  Although I believe Christine O’Donnell has a chance to win, I firmly believe Castle stood a better chance.  In addition, Castle was subjected to some fairly below the belt stuff during his race.  The O’Donnell campaign lied about his support of Obamacare (he did not support it) and played fast and loose with the truth about his voting record.  They instituted a scorched earth campaign and decided to see what would stick.  I don’t mind hardball – I don’t like lying to win.  O’Donnell did.

Finally, for those who are complaining about Castle’s decision (which he has yet to make), I’d encourage you to walk a mile in his shoes.  It’s very easy for those of us on the outside to tell candidates they should kiss and make up.  It’s a completely different animal when the losing candidate has lost all respect for the victor because of the way the campaign unfolded.  You make the bed, you lie in it.  O’Donnell and her team chose their tactics, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

I hope Mike Castle decides not mount a write-in campaign.  Recent polls show he wouldn’t win and he doesn’t take enough votes from Coons to give O’Donnell the victory.  Unlike Sore-Loser Lisa Murkowski, I don’t think it is ego driving Castle to consider a write-in bid; I think it’s revenge.  If that’s the case, he might set the whole state on fire just to make sure O’Donnell walks in his shoes.

UPDATE:  Congressman Castle proves that he is a man of character and honor by declining to mount a write in campaign  (  Murkowski could learn a thing or to about class and dignity from Mike Castle.

September 19, 2010

Who Decides if Someone Is Not Conservative Enough?

Christine O’Donnell’s victory in the Delaware Senate primary last week was remarkable.  Against overwhelming odds she defeated liberal Republican Congressman Mike Castle, a former Governor of the state and a 16 year member of Congress.  O’Donnell’s victory sent shock waves through the GOP establishment, conveyed the electoral strength of the “Tea Party” movement, and has alarmed me in a way that I can’t quite figure out.

The victory of so-called Tea Party candidates throughout America this election cycle has been amazing and, in my opinion, good for our country.  Whether it is Marco Rubio in Florida chasing a sitting Governor out of the Republican party, Rand Paul in Kentucky dispatching an establishment backed, liberal Republican, or Carl Paladino’s stunning victory in the New York Gubernatorial primary, solid, qualified, conservative candidates have been scoring tremendous victories for conservatives and conservatism.  O’Donnell’s victory does not compare with the three I’ve just mentioned, and I will explain why.

The O’Donnell victory has evinced the first fissures in the conservative movement during the 2010 election cycle, and it started with Karl Rove.  I was disappointed with Rove's remarks following Ms. O’Donnell’s victory in the Delaware Senate primary.  I do not understand why a man I respect a great deal, and know to be a conservative, would so overtly trash another Republican on national television.  I appreciate the concern among some (a concern I hold) that O’Donnell’s win in the primary could cost the GOP an opportunity to win in Delaware, and thus cost us an opportunity to control the Senate; I was shocked, however, by the level of vitriol in Karl’s remarks.

Although I believe Rove was out of line, he has a right to his opinion, and he has been a champion for conservatism throughout his career, going all the way back to his time with the National Young Republicans in the 70’s and 80’s.  So, imagine my surprise when other conservatives started trashing Karl for not being a conservative simply because he, albeit in a clumsy way, expressed his concern about the outcome in Delaware.  Karl’s remarks were followed by remarks and a column by Charles Krauthammer (the dean of conservative columnists) expressing his concerns about Ms. O’Donnell and her electability in very left leaning ( Delaware.  Karl’s comments were the spark, Krauthammer’s were the gasoline.

All of a sudden there appears to be a litmus test for who is “conservative enough”.  Those people who are railing against Charles Krauthammer quite clearly have no idea what a tremendous asset he has been to the ideals of conservatism.  Outside of perhaps Thomas Sowell, there has been no columnist who has done a more effective job of advocating conservatism in this country and explaining the benefits of conservatism in a way that appeals to a broad spectrum of Americans.  To dismiss this man as an “establishment Republican” discredits his work and does a disservice to all those Republicans who understand that the most important vote cast next year in the Senate will be the vote for Senate Majority Leader.  Mike Castle would very likely have won in Delaware and would have voted for the Republican as Senate Majority Leader.

I have become more and more frustrated and disgusted with people who think they “own” conservatism, or to a greater degree, “own” the Constitution.  The great Edmund Burke said, “the greatest crimes do not arise from a want of feeling for others but from an over-sensibility for ourselves and an over-indulgence to our own desires.” I was reminded of this quote when reflecting on the events of the past week.  This notion of “over-sensibility for ourselves” truly speaks to those people who KNOW that Rove, Krauthammer, and others can’t be conservative because, Heaven forbid, they have a different opinion.  Of course, “over-indulgence of our own desires” can very well be the belief that your knowledge of our Constitution is great than mine, therefore my interpretation is not “true to the cause of freedom” in the way that your beliefs are.  That’s all hogwash!

The concerns expressed about the electability of Ms. O’Donnell by other Republicans are legitimate.  We can’t just turn a blind eye to those concerns because we prefer a world in which all of our “Tea Party” candidates are the perfect representation of our thoughts, ideals, and beliefs.  She now has to defeat a liberal Democrat who has won statewide in a left leaning state while addressing the fact that she is not gainfully employed, has had significant financial troubles in her past, and has, over the years, expressed opinions on social issues that do not appear to be in line with the beliefs of the vast majority of Delawareans (effectively detailed by John McCormack in The Weekly Standard).  After all, she is running on fiscal accountability and personal responsibility in the state of Delaware.

I hope that Christine O’Donnell shocks the world and wins in Delaware.  Not because I think she will be a remarkable Senator, I don’t, but because she will be one more vote for a Republican Senate Majority Leader.  We do not have to pretend that she has the level of accomplishments of a Rand Paul or Marco Rubio, or that she is as qualified as Sharron Angel.  And, we do not have to demonize conservatives who have real concerns about O’Donnell’s electability just because we don’t share their opinion.

September 9, 2010


In 1964, Ronald Reagan said in what has come to be known simply as “The Speech”  "You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth….If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”
Given the current state of affairs in this country, it would be easy for many of us to believe that we, as a country, have reached our destiny – that our best days are behind us.  In fact, the vast majority of Americans are pessimistic about the future.  For too long, politicians of both major parties have been unwilling to make the difficult choices that will bring this country back from the economic abyss simply because they have been more interested in retaining power than in making difficult decisions that could cost them in the next election.  We cannot abide by that attitude any longer.
We live in a remarkable country – made that why by men and women willing to meet any challenge and overcome any obstacle.  America is exceptional and we have a duty to restore her greatness.  In these times of tribulation, we need leaders who see challenges not as obstacles, but as stepping stones to a thriving and prosperous America.
The challenges we face as a nation are remarkable for their complexity and their size.  Just today, I learned that the U.S. national debt is larger than all the money in the world combined (!  That is astounding...and disgusting.  We are making interest payments on our debt to the tune of $20.5 billion in August alone!  Bear in mind, this is during a time of record low interest rates.  When borrowers demand a higher rate of return, our debt payments will explode.

The path of least resistance is not going to cut it during these tough economic times.  We need leaders like Senator Jim DeMint, Congressman Paul Ryan, Dino Rossi here in Washington, Colonel Alan West in Florida and others to step up and make the same difficult choices they have made at other points in their career.  No one can overstate just how important this election is.  Our future - and the future of our children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews - is at stake.  

My prayer is that we elect leaders in 2010 who are less concerned about career and more concerned about country.  Leaders who realize that the choice could be between furthering their own political viability or saving the United State for future generations.

September 6, 2010

A Quote from John Adams

I am finishing up John Adams by David McCullough.  The book is exceptional and I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in our Founding Fathers and an interest in what leadership and sacrifice look like.

I was struck by a seemingly inconsequential passage in the book.  It wouldn't leave me, so I wanted to share it with you.  In a letter to John Quincy Adams, who expressed an interest in public life (serving in politics), Adams wrote "His first maxim then should be to place his honor out of reach of all men.  In order to do this he must make it a rule to never become dependent upon public employment for subsistence.  Let him have a trade, a profession...something where he can honestly live, and then, he may engage in public affairs, if invited, upon independent principles.  My advice to my children is to maintain an independent character".

Oh how far we have come!  There was a time when "public life" was to be had only after establishing a profession.  Now, political service is a means in and of itself.  This is exactly what I meant when I spoke of  the concept of servant leadership and the notion that we need to be leery of those running for office who have no private sector experience.

If we are going to effect true change in this country, the kind of change espoused by the everyday folks involved in the tea party movement, we need to take a hard look at our "leaders" whose only "service" has been in public life.

There was a time when Congress convened for six months out of the year and then the individual members of Congress returned to their homes and their professions (in fact, John Adams did this as Vice-President).  Are we too far removed from times such as these?  Can we get back to a time when people didn't aspire to political office for the power, perks, and paycheck?  I believe that we can, but it's up to each individual citizen to make it a priority to call on servant leaders to lead, not those who have made a career out of serving themselves at the public trough.

By the way - this is another great reason to support Dino Rossi over Patty Murray.  Dino is a self-made man who built a business and then, when called to serve, put his experience to use for the benefit of taxpayers.  By stark contrast, Patty Murray has made a career out of ensuring that the taxpayers serve her.

September 1, 2010

Denny Heck's Tone Deaf Ad

The other night I had the opportunity to see my first general election ad broadcast in the 3rd Congressional District.  The ad was put out by Democrat Denny Heck.  Notwithstanding the odd timing of the ad (the last week in August), I was struck by the complete lack of any true understanding of the problems confronting the people of the 3rd Congressional District.

Heck's ad (available here) was striking in its tone deafness.  I was stunned that his first ad for the general election, the one that will presumably introduce him to voters, focused on Wall Street reform!  Wall Street reform!  Seriously, is there anyone in the country, outside of the progressive enclaves of Berkley, CA, or downtown Seattle, discussing Wall Street reform around the kitchen table?  I highly doubt that.  Especially when we are living in a country that has nearly 10% unemployment, and a district where unemployment is 12%.  We are living in a country that has $14 trillion in debt.  A country that, in 10 years, will spend more on debt service than China does on its defense budget.  And, Denny Heck is focused on Wall Street reform

Of course, the ad had the usual, tired Democrat talking points about "outsourcing American jobs", and "getting off our addiction to foreign oil" through green energy, but the main point, and the reason Denny is running (according to the ad) is because of those fat cat bankers on Wall Street.  First question:  How did Denny Heck make his millions?  You guessed it, Wall Street.  He, along with our junior Senator Maria Cantwell, was an early investor in RealNetworks.  When RealNetworks went public, with the help of Investment Bankers ON WALL STREET, and had its initial public offering, Denny Heck was an overnight millionaire.  Not bad for a guy who seems to despise those "fat cat bankers".

Second question:  Why does he want to take the opportunity for wealth away from the rest of America?  Heck is like so many Democrats who, once they've achieved success, want to limit the opportunity for success for the rest of us.  Wealth is built three ways in this country: own dirt (real estate), own a business, or inherit the money.  Heck and the rest of his ilk have already destroyed the real estate market, it seems like only Democrats inherit great wealth (or marry into it), and now they want to limit our ability to own businesses through ownership of stock.  He got his, so he'll take his ball and go home.

In addition, Heck supports reinstating Glass-Steagall which might sound good on the surface, but could be disastrous for the economy (we'll leave this discussion for another day).  Heck and his team have no idea how to speak to the fed up, angry, concerned voters of the 3rd Congressional District, so they resort to worn out arguments and tired talking points.

Now don't get me wrong.  Reforms of "Wall Street" are needed.  For instance, I support increased regulation of derivatives, CDOs, and some of the more exotic investment products. I don't, however, support the pseudo reforms in the biill that Obama signed in to law.  That bill does nothing to address the underlying problems in our financial services sector, and does absolutely nothing to address the issues that caused the financial crisis in the first place.

But, none of this matters to Obama, Pelosi, and Heck.  Their focus is to create divisions among Americans, based on class warfare, and try to shame people into supporting their misguided and dangerous policies.  Although I don't put much stock in polls conducted in August, it is worth noting that Heck was down 14 points in the Survey USA poll commissioned after the primary election.  He's going to have to get a real clue regarding the concerns of the people of the 3rd Congressional District, or that August poll will be his high water mark.