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The final poll conducted by the Des Moines Register newspaper before the Iowa Caucuses on Thursday is out and Barack Obama has widened his lead over Hillary Clinton while Mike Huckabee continues to outpace Mitt Romney on the Republican side:

Obama was the choice of 32 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers, up from 28 percent in the Register’s last poll in late November, while Clinton, a New York senator, held steady at 25 percent and Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, was virtually unchanged at 24 percent.

The poll reflects continued fluidity in the race even as the end of the yearlong campaign nears. Roughly a third of likely caucusgoers say they could be persuaded to choose someone else before Thursday evening. Six percent were undecided or uncommitted.

The poll also reveals a widening gap between the three-way contest for the lead and the remaining candidates. No other Democrat received support from more than 6 percent of likely caucusgoers.

The findings mark the largest lead of any of the Democratic candidates in the Register’s poll all year, underscoring what has been a hard-fought battle among the three well-organized Iowa frontrunners.

Huckabee enjoys a 6 point lead on Romney, 32-26% with John McCain a distant third at 13% and Fred Thompson in fourth with 9%.

A couple of thoughts on this poll that will probably be echoed by some of the campaigns as they try to spin the results to their advantage.

First, I find it striking that observers on the ground in the last 72 hours who have been reporting surges for Hillary and Romney and the consequent drop of Huckabee and Obama are either seeing things or the poll itself is just not accurate. The reason for the latter could be due to the novel experiment of polling during the biggest holiday season of the year.

Polling is a science where methodology is all. What kind of sample? Was it “random” enough? Was it a big enough sample? How do you determine a probable caucus goer? Couple that with the astonishing information that up to a third of those who say they will attend the caucuses could change their mind between now and caucus night and I believe it more than likely that the holidays have been a distraction to the process. It could very well be that a sizable percentage of people will walk into their caucus on Thursday night not knowing who they will support.

I think as an indicator of a general trend, the poll is accurate. Romney and Huckabee are probably pulling away from the rest of the field while Obama is putting a little distance between himself and Hillary/Edwards. But beyond that I don’t know how accurate it is even as a snapshot.

The poll was taken over 4 days – December 27-30 – with 800 “likely” Caucus goers being polled. If you follow the first link to the story on the Democrats and go to the bottom, you’ll find a chart showing how the polling percentages broke down over the 4 days. What you see is a remarkable surge by Obama over those 4 days as late deciders are evidently flocking to his banner while Hillary’s numbers tank over the same period. Obama starts at 29% and ends up at 34% while Hillary starts at 27% and drops to 23%. John Edwards also saw his numbers climb dramatically over the 4 days from 23% to 26%.

This is exactly the opposite of what has been reported on the ground over the last 3 days by many reporters who saw Clinton on the upswing with Edwards peaking and Obama dropping.

So much for our vaunted political press.

For the GOP, Iowa has apparently become a two man race between Romney and Huckabee. Is Huckabee really up by 6 points? Sometimes you can tell more from the candidate’s behavior than you can published polls. They are reacting to internal polling which measures support a little differently than public polls. And the way Huckabee and Romney have been acting would seem to suggest that it is Romney on the rise with Huckabee trying to stop a slide.

For Fredheads, the only good news is that Thompson is the only GOP candidate whose support rose during the entire polling period. But 10% won’t cut it by any means and if that’s the best the candidate can do, I would expect him to drop out on Friday morning.

If polls are considered snapshots of a moment in time, there’s plenty of mud on these photos making it difficult to read. We may as well resign ourselves to the idea that we’re just going to have to wait until late Thursday night to find out the winners and losers.


TNR is puzzled by the same things I am:

This totally shatters the CW of the political crowd here in Des Moines, which had been convinced that Edwards was on fire and really might win, and that Huck was totally imploding. (Although the polling stopped yesterday, before today’s Huck presser fiasco.) It also reaffirms my instinct that Fred Thompson isn’t booking a flight to New Hampshire.

Update: The Edwards camp is already spinning the numbers—which, as Ben Smith notes, swing a wrecking ball through their “surge” storyline—not unreasonably questioning the accuracy of polling over a holiday weekend, and noting that many respondents remain uncertain of their vote.

In a post over the weekend I cited a campaign operative who worried polling around the holidays would be wacky. But he predicted that variable would undercount traveling young people, doing damage to Obama. If you believe his theory, Obama may be even stronger than this poll shows. But that’s a little hard to believe.

Crowley also believes Fred will drop out on Friday.

Register columnist David Ypsen:

  • Undecideds exist. There are 6 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers and 4 percent of the Republicans who have no first choice. Their final decisions will be enough to change the order of finish in both parties. That fact alone should keep anyone from using these polls to forecast the outcome of the race.
  • Last-minute developments won’t be reflected. In 2004, 21 percent of those who showed up at Democratic caucuses decided who they’d support in the last three days of the campaign. This poll won’t reflect those decisions because it came out of the field on Sunday night—four days before people vote. So, for example, it can’t reflect the goofy press conference Huckabee held on Monday in which he promised not to run attack ads against Mitt Romney while producing them and showing them to reporters anyway. Right.
  • Some support is soft. Of those who have decided on a candidate, 34 percent of the Democrats say they could still be persuaded to change their minds. Among Republicans, it’s 46 percent.

That GOP number reflects a profound dissatisfaction with their choices not, as some would hope, Iowans who can’t make up their minds.

Read the rest of Ypsen’s analysis. It contains some very bad news for Republicans next year as above all, voters are seeking a change.

By: Rick Moran at 10:42 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13)

CATEGORY: Blogging

Here’s wishing all of you a very happy and safe New Year.

I urge you to be careful and not do something stupid like drink and drive. The process that one must go through legally in order to get your license back is the biggest racket in the history of American jurisprudence. The state, the courts, the lawyers, the DUI and alchohol rehab centers – everyone ends up making a pile of money. And it all comes out of your pocket.

Besides, it’s the second most dangerous thing you can do in life – besides going to a Moveon.Org meeting wearing your Ronald Reagan T-shirt and hat.

And while we’re all celebrating, why not toss a few back for The House.

My little weblog just passed two million visitors since January 2005 – and a million since April of last year. Let me just say I am grateful for your patronage and I hope you continue to pay me regular visits in 2008.

By: Rick Moran at 1:10 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)


Hello, I’m Fred Thompson.

In the closing days of this historic contest here in Iowa, I wanted to take a few moments to talk quietly with you about the stakes in this election and the critical issues you will soon decide.

Because there is no frontrunner here in Iowa and because yours will be the first votes cast in this crucial election year, your decision will be one the entire country closely watches and learns from.

When you go to your local caucus on January 3rd and fill out your paper ballot – and, by the way, it’s just that easy – how you vote will go a long way towards deciding who will lead us as president through dangerous years ahead.

That the years ahead will be dangerous needs no elaboration from me. Most Americans know the forces of terrorism will not rest until a mushroom cloud hangs over one of our cities. The recent tragic assassination of former Prime Minister Bhutto in Pakistan again demonstrates the terrorists’ will to power and their relentless cruelty.

Along with threats to our national security, we have great domestic challenges before us – the economy, taxes, protecting our borders, and protecting the right to life.

So, I want to talk to you now about the threats and dangers that we face as a people—but also about the hope and opportunity I see out there.

Before doing that, however, I’d be remiss if I did not—on behalf of myself and my wife, Jeri – thank the people of Iowa for all your hospitality and warmth over the past few months. Traveling around the state with all our wonderful volunteers and staff and especially with your great congressman Steven King meant getting to know all of you better. And that’s been one of the great privileges of our lives.

You may have heard about our bus tour – we’re visiting about 50 cities. Having that time out there in the heartland has also taught us once again about what counts in life – the importance of passing on to our children and grandchildren the same safe and free future that others protected and passed on to us.

By any measure, we live in the greatest country in the history of the world. Every generation of Americans has an obligation to keep it that way. And to do that we must remember how we got to where we are—and why we are so blessed.

That means remembering the fundamental, conservative principles that have unified us for over two centuries.

What are those principles?

o First, the role of the federal government is limited to the powers given to it in the Constitution

o Second, a dollar belongs in the pocket of the person who earns it, unless the government has a compelling reason why it can use it better

o Third, we don’t spend money we don’t have, or borrow money that our children and grandchildren will have to pay back

o And the best way to avoid war is to be stronger than our enemies. But if we’re caught in a fight, we need to win it because not doing so makes us much more likely to be attacked in the future

o Also the federal judiciary is supposed to decide cases, not set social policy—and bad social policy at that

o And the bigger the government gets, the less competent it is to run our lives.

Now these are ideals and principles that made our country free, prosperous and strong. And these principles are the foundation of a conservative movement that I’ve been faithful to throughout my adult life. These are not principles I decided on a few years ago. They are not concepts that I learned from a focus group. And they are not ideas I came up with to curry favor or to win an election. These principles are part of who I am and, I suspect, they are views and instincts I share with most of you.

And every single one of these principles is under assault today – under assault from a left wing, big-government, high-taxing, weak-on-defense Democratic party. A party whose leadership is licking its chops just waiting to take over the reins of government – waiting to bring to the United States presidency the same reckless power-seeking and incompetence it’s brought this year to the United States Congress.

That’s why the upcoming caucuses are so important. On January 3rd, the people of Iowa are going to answer an important question. Who’s the man you want to represent us—to stand against this assault and protect our principles and values?

It’s a little late in the process to be coy. I believe I’m that man. I can stand up to those who would trifle with our great founding principles. I’ve done it before. I’ll blow the whistle on their schemes. And I know how to beat them in the war of ideas.

And in demonstrating that, I have laid out plans for:

o A simplified, flatter income tax to take away power rom the IRS

o A way to save a Social Security system that is going bankrupt

o A stronger military ready to face the threats of a dangerous world; and

o A solution to our illegal immigration mess.

Any number of publications and commentators – the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, National Review, Investors Business Daily and others—have praised these plans. And many have pointed out that I’m the only Republican in the race for the presidency who has stepped up to offer such bold, conservative ideas. I invite you to check the policy details on my website

But you’re not electing a set of position papers. You’re electing a leader – at a time when strong leadership is going to be needed.

Now if you watched or heard about the most recent debate between the Republican candidates you probably know that I declined when called upon by the moderator to do any hand-raising – I just thought that there should be some things that are below even the dignity of presidential candidates. But the point’s this: I don’t think it was difficult to pick the leader out of that line-up. If those other fellas can’t stand up to an overbearing moderator in a debate, I’m not sure how they would fare against the leader of Iran or North Korea.

Now there are many good men running for our party’s nomination. Each of them loves our country. Each of them has something interesting and useful to offer. But the fact of the matter is that the Republican Party is a conservative party. That’s the philosophy that’s shaped us. That’s the philosophy that has won us elections. And that’s the philosophy we must champion if we are to win again in 2008.

And on that score, among each of the men seeking our party’s nomination, my record stands out. I entered public life as a conservative. I served in the Senate as a strong, consistent conservative with a 100% pro life voting record. And I have the same philosophy today that I had back then. What you see is what you get. I dance to no man’s tune. And no one has ever accused me of changing my position on anything for the sake of political expediency. That’s why when someone here in Iowa said conservatives were looking for a horse to ride in 2008, I responded, “Saddle me up.” And in the battle of ideas, we can’t afford a Republican leader who doesn’t have a core philosophy that grounds him. I know who I am. I know what I believe. And I am ready to lead.

When I was in the federal government, I concentrated on national security. I served on the Intelligence Committee, met with foreign leaders around the world. And I managed for the Republican side the passage of the Homeland Security bill which I believe has helped us prevent another “9/11.”

I continued public service after I left government. Although my role on TV’s “Law & Order” got considerably more publicity, I took on other roles from time to time as well. When Condoleeza Rice needed someone to advise her on matters of international security, she called on me. When the President needed help to get a good conservative judge confirmed as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, he called on me.

What it all comes down to is this: The most important issue facing us is the national security of our nation and the safety of our people.

I’ve spent a lot of time both in and out of government working to make the American people safer. I know the world we live in, I know what we need to do, and I know it’s going to require strong leadership.

And I would ask people to think one thing before they caucus: When our worst enemy is sitting across from us at the negotiating table, and they’re thinking about what they can do to harm the United States of America, and what they might could get away with, who do you want sitting on our side of the table representing you, working to keep you safe? That’s probably the person you ought to elect as President.

I’ve been tested. And I believe our country’s best days are ahead of us if we take on the responsibility of leadership. The American people are waiting for us to step up, protect our values, our principles and our country. Together we can do something great for America. I welcome that challenge.

But, my friends, I need your help.

Because right now in this final weekend another issue is before us: that of electability.

I believe I am the only candidate in this race who can bring our party to victory in the Fall. First, because of the firmness of my principles and the trust that that engenders. Secondly, because of the detailed program I’ve put before the people. Third, because I’ve been tried and tested – and I’m a known quantity in public life.

But, most of all, I think I know how to talk to the American people about the opposition and the danger their victory would pose to the principles we hold dear.

You know in the last debate – when I was asked the biggest problem with American education—I had a ready answer: “The NEA.”

By which I meant the National Education Association—that highly politicized, Washington-based union that is a hindrance to students as well as to the teachers it claims to represent.

But you know the NEA is not the only problem. Just like its education policy, the Democratic party’s foreign policy is heavily influenced by another left-of-center pressure group-Move which implied that our leading general in Iraq betrayed us, that tells our men and women in uniform that the war they are fighting is lost, and then tries to cut off funds for our troops in the field.

And its social policy is heavily determined by the radically secularist ACLU —which tries to take God out of the public square and leaps to the legal defense of our Nation’s enemies.

You know, when I’m asked which of the current group of Democratic candidates I prefer to run against, I always say it really doesn’t matter. Because these days all those candidates, all the Democratic leaders, are one and the same. They’re all NEA, Move, ACLU, Michael Moore Democrats. They’ve allowed these radicals to take control of their party and dictate their course.

So this election is important not just to enact our conservative principles. This election is important to salvage the once-great political party from the grip of extremism and shake it back to its senses. It’s time to give not just Republicans but independents and, yes, good Democrats a chance to call a halt to the leftward lurch of the once proud party of working people.

So in seeking the nomination of my own party, I want to say something a little unusual. I am asking my fellow Republicans to vote for me not only for what I have to say to them, but for what I have to say to the members of the other party—the millions of Democrats who haven’t left the Democratic party so much as their party’s national leadership has left them.

In this campaign I will be seeking the support of millions of Democrats who no longer believe that they can trust their own party’s leadership on the issue of national security.

I will be seeking the support of millions of Democrats with young families who are beginning to see the economic burdens they may face because of their party leadership’s taste for high taxes and politically motivated refusal to fix social security and remove the threat of a shortfall in federal benefit plans that could be a catastrophe for younger taxpayers.

And, finally, I’ll be seeking the support of Democrats who are weary of spin politics and the permanent campaign and endless attempts to control the media dynamic—who think policy stances ought to be judged on a higher criteria than what works better in a sound bite or fits this week’s campaign-message guidance.

So I’ll be asking good Democrats as well as Independents to give us another chance – to see if a Republican president and Congress that’s dedicated to conservative principles can move forward with an agenda that goes beyond narrow partisanship and political expediency and actually deals with the long-term foreign and domestic crises we face.

I know we can do better than a 14% approval rating the current Congress had. And I know we’ve learned our lessons from last year’s election. We’re the party of smaller, smarter government, lower taxes, and less Washington spending. And the only way we win is if we understand that, remain true to it, and refuse to yield to those who would have us abandon it.

All of this, then, and more is why I’m running for president. I believe, that, yes, we can deal with the dangers and threats before our nation and the world.

And we can begin now by remembering who we are, where we came from, and what we’ve done before as a people. This isn’t the first time our nation has been in grave danger, even in our own lifetime. Not long ago ours was an East-West world where the democracies were beleaguered and small in number. Now so much that was once unimaginable is happening before our eyes. We see a world where representative government is flourishing. A world where the global economic boom is taking millions out of poverty every year. A world where there’s even talk of a permanent end to poverty.

Well, we got to this place because of leaders who saw something more than political expediency, leaders like a Ronald Reagan. A Ronald Reagan who would use his time in office wisely precisely because he thought politics had higher uses than just the pursuit of power.

He spoke often of the abuses of government power that our founding fathers feared and warned against. You know, I’ve always thought one of the most impressive things about one of those founders—George Washington—was his willingness to walk away from power. Having spent eight impossibly difficult years in a military struggle against the greatest military power on earth, he was filled with an awe and wonder not at the work of mere mortals but at the workings and power of Providence, an awe and wonder that was never to leave him. To his dying day he was to remind Americans that the one condition of a prosperous and free people was a belief in a will higher than our own, a trust in Providence.

Lincoln had it too—the conviction that no free people and certainly no president can long endure without a belief in a wisdom far exceeding any human understanding.

I know the people of Iowa think that way. I recognize it when I see it. That’s one of the great advantages that comes from growing up in another part of the heartland—Lawrenceburg Tennessee. On Sunday morning, my hometown was a pretty busy place- people on the way to hear the good news – the good news that the future is in better hands than our own. So, thanks to what I learned in those early days I’ve always known no matter how much we want it otherwise, we humans aren’t in charge. Life is sometimes harsh though in teaching us that truth.

And all this was much on my mind last summer when I decided to run for the presidency. Especially as I looked around my home at another generation—a three-year old and a five-month old—and thought—as have so many of you over the past few years – about the safe future I had and how much I wanted to make that future a certainty for my children and yours.

So for this reason and all the others I mentioned, I’m hoping that you support me in the days ahead. I am hoping too that you’ll join me in something that comes pretty easy here in ‘the heartland”— a prayer of thanks for the great things that have happened in our time. And a prayer of hope too. Hope that when the history of our own age is written it will be said of us what was said of those before us. That we were unswerving in our dedication to the cause of human freedom and dignity. And that we kept our trust in the will of Him who made us—and who enjoins us to now go forth and make a newer world ,

Thank you all. May God bless you and May God bless America

By: Rick Moran at 12:57 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)


Writing about Fred Thompson has always presented a challenge to me as a blogger. The analyst in me is in conflict with the cheerleader – a common conundrum for most bloggers who have a favorite in the race. I must confess there are times when the cheerleader part of me takes control and I become overly enthusiastic about a candidate who many see as no one to get very excited about. And there are other times where I highlight the cold, analytical facts and figures of the race – much to the disadvantage of the candidate – which drives many of my fellow Fredheads up a wall.

Indeed, from a purely analytical point of view, looking at all the polls (not just the select few that seem to give a rosier picture of Thompson’s chances), Fred Thompson will probably not be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. There are few serious professionals I have heard or read that give the candidate much of a chance. Too many lightening strikes would be necessary for that to happen, too many improbable scenarios in too many of the early primaries would have to come true for Fred to survive.

The candidate has little money on hand and with the February 5 Super Tuesday gaggle of 21 primaries a little more than a month away where 50% of the delegates to the national convention will be chosen, it seems an impossible task to raise money in amounts that would allow the candidate to be competitive with Mitt Romney’s bottomless pit of funds or Giuliani’s reservoir of cash.

As I have said before, all of this is beside the point. As long as there is a chance for success and as long as the candidate himself believes he can win, his supporters should back his play to the best of their ability. And in the here and now, Iowa is the battleground where the candidate has chosen to make a stand and where he absolutely must do better than the pundits and pros are expecting.

I was gratified to see yesterday on CNN’s Late Edition that Fred was touting the fact that he thinks he can finish second in Iowa:

BLITZER: OK. Let’s talk a little bit about the chances that you have in Iowa right now. Some of the more recent polls have you coming in at third or fourth. What do you have to do? How do you have to emerge in Iowa in order to justify moving on to New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan and beyond?

THOMPSON: Well, the overwhelming number of polls out this way have me running third right now, and the last couple of credible polls that have come out have showed me in the teens or the high teens and not that far back from the pack.

You know, I think I have a decent chance of coming in second out here, and it’s moving in the right direction.

We’re in the middle of a 50-county, 50-town and city tour out here. And we’re going out, taking the grassroots, the numbers are reflecting that. People who get a chance to hear us, and we’ve had a little chance to spend time with them, it’s resulting in on-the-ground activity, and it’s resulting in contributions coming in and things of that nature.

When the conventional political wisdom dictates the candidate play down his chances thus lowering expectations, Fred once again goes against the grain and ups the ante considerably by giving himself a shot at second place – presumably at the expense of Mike Huckabee who is being turned into hamburger by Mitt Romney’s multi-million dollar last minute negative ad blitz. It is not a likely scenario but is one of those lightening strikes I mentioned above that would have to occur for Thompson to become viable in the eyes of conservatives elsewhere.

In fact, Thompson has eschewed “conventional wisdom” for the entire campaign. From his unorthodox “front porch” campaign in the spring and early summer, to his effective early use of the internet, to his unconventional (and controversial) mode and method of campaigning, Thompson has followed the dictates of his inner voice about how to go about running for president. It has placed him at odds with the media, the punditocracy, and most of the political class – all of whom worship at the altar of conventional wisdom. These gatekeepers love CW because it makes their jobs easier.

Rather than doing any real reporting or analysis, it is much easier (and much more profitable as a writer) if you can take the CW about any candidate and with a clever turn of the phrase that either sticks in the knife or places a halo around their head, simply repeat what every other reporter, columnist, and analyst is saying. It has made political reporting in this country as monochromatic and boring as can possibly be – mostly because the lack of originality is so glaringly obvious. Only on blogs (and a precious few online magazines) does one find the kind of fresh and penetrating analysis that used to be the hallmark of political reporting in this country.

So when a candidate that rejects conventional wisdom about how to run a presidential campaign comes along, there is resistance from the gatekeepers. According to CW, a candidate must run around like a whirling dervish from campaign stop to campaign stop, torturing themselves in order to make themselves worthy in the eyes of of the high priests of politics inside the beltway.

Most forget that this kind of all out, pedal to the metal campaigning is a relatively new phenomena – at least during the primaries. It was Jimmy Carter who began campaigning in Iowa two years before the caucuses in order to grab headlines and gain momentum going into New Hampshire. Since then, CW has dictated that the candidates who flails away the most and knocks themselves out campaigning are deemed worthy of consideration. All others need not apply.

For whatever reason, Thompson has rejected that model and followed his own instincts. And the candidate has also rejected the normal appeals by a politician to people’s fears and emotions and instead tried to engage the voters on an intellectual level. This has led to charges that he is “uninspiring” or boring. To answer that, Thompson has recorded a 17 minute appeal to Iowa voters, laying out his case to support him.

Conventional wisdom says that this recording is a waste of time, that no voter will sit through 17 minutes of a politician talking about himself and his qualifications to be the next President of the United States. I’m not so sure. The video is compelling and revealing. It shows a man offering himself for public service not a politician bragging about and exaggerating his meager accomplishments. There is little in the way of embellishments or histrionics. It is just Fred Thompson being Fred Thompson – refreshing in a way that is not easily dismissed.

It is, as the candidate infers, the anti-sound bite. It is not the background noise of a campaign that floods the airwaves with 15 and 30 second spots with the deep intonations of a narrator talking about some superficial attribute of the featured candidate. This message has meat on the bone and gives a voter who watches it the opportunity to fully take the measure of the man speaking. No artifice. No subterfuge. Simple, straightforward, from the shoulder facts about Thompson, his reasons for running, and his belief that he can win.

But what Thompson’s message to Iowans shows above all is a very serious man talking about very serious issues and the fact that the years ahead will demand a thoughtfulness and a seriousness of purpose from our President if we are to successfully navigate the treacherous shoals of history and bring the ship of state safely through to the other side.

No other candidate that I’ve seen possesses this kind of serious approach to the enormous problems facing this country in the years ahead. That’s why I support Fred Thompson despite his long shot chances and despite all the criticisms levelled against him by the conventional wisdom crowd.

By: Rick Moran at 9:28 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)


Fred Thompson says he is “not consumed by personal ambition.” He says that he won’t slit his wrists if he loses the presidency. He says “I’m not particularly interested in running for president, but I think I’d make a good president. Nowadays, the process has become much more important than I think it used to be.”

The press is having a field day, of course. They love it when a candidate seems to confirm all the supposedly nasty things they’ve been saying about him. Go here for a full transcript of what Thompson said in response to an earnest question from a voter who asked “if I caucus for you next week, are you still going to be there two months from now?”

It’s too late for Thompson to change the minds of the press regarding the importance of having an overweening ambition to be president. Collectively, it appears they have decided that this is an extremely relevant and serious criteria by which to judge a candidate’s worthiness for high office. Somehow, a candidate’s thoughtfulness, integrity, instincts, temperament, and views on the issues have become secondary to an artificial measurement of the heat given off from how much fire is in his belly.

Our gatekeepers are, if nothing else, consistent in their criticism of Thompson’s commitment to running for president. Ever since the first weeks of the campaign when the press woke up to the fact that Thompson was going to run the campaign his way and not the way that everyone (including the press) expected him to run it, the conventional wisdom developed that it didn’t matter what Thompson was saying or what he believed. What mattered is that he failed to meet the arbitrary standards set by the media denoting what might be termed “the cup of desire” test. Thompson refused to drink deep draughts and has been skewered for it.

I can’t think of any other candidate in the last 35 years who has been judged by such extraordinarily shallow criteria. There were whispers prior to Reagan running for President in 1980 that the candidate was too laid back. Indeed, Reagan’s loss in Iowa in 1980 was attributed to a “lazy” campaign. But no one accused The Gipper of lacking desire for the office or even that his laid back style disqualified him from consideration.

This is an entirely new phenomena in politics and is directly related to the fact that running for President has become pretty much of a 4 year undertaking. A large part of the reason for that is the ungodly sums of money that must be raised to build what amounts to a $100 million nationwide business whose only product is electing the candidate president. Those few candidates who can accomplish this have a huge leg up in the race.

Declaring early means wrapping up the party “whales” and “bundlers” who invest in a candidate as they would a promising stock or top performing mutual fund. When you consider the fact that the top 4 fundraisers in the race had all been mentioned as possible presidential candidates as far back as 2004, you begin to see where a candidate like Thompson, already at a huge disadvantage, would seek to break the mold and run a different kind of campaign, freed from the necessity of living up to anyone’s expectations about how a successful run for office should unfold.

Unfortunately, mold breakers are inevitably punished for their apostasy. In Thompson’s case, the candidate himself hasn’t helped much. Voters may not have been asking the questions raised by the media about Thompson’s demeanor and desire, but judging by the poll numbers, those questions may have been uppermost in their minds. The fact is, Thompson has failed to adequately address the issue – until he hit a home run with his response yesterday. Predictably, the press spun the story the way they wanted – an easy task given the complexity and subtly of Thompson’s argument. But an examination of his explanation reveals a refreshing honesty about the candidate’s inner thinking and what exactly is motivating him to run.

Surprisingly, the reasons are no different than any other candidate. A desire to serve, a belief that he can accomplish “special things,” the confidence that he is running for “the right reasons.” So if it is not his motivation for running that is in question, what exactly is it that has the press so doggedly determined to portray him as “lazy” or “lacking fire in the belly?”

In an age when candidates run campaigns that are dependent on emotionally connecting with the voter (usually by trying to frighten them to death about their opponent), Thompson seeks to engage people on an intellectual level. Rather than using rhetoric to inflame passions, the candidate tries to make the voter think. There is little pizazz and less of the campaign superficialities in Thompson’s effort than one finds in any other campaign. In short, as entertainment, the Thompson campaign receives failing grades. The candidate does not make good copy nor do his appearances necessarily make good TV. Rather than giving off sparks, the campaign emits a stolid, steady feeling of seriousness.

The press uses code words like “lazy” simply because they can’t bring themselves to describe the campaign and the candidate as “boring” – a description that would reveal them to be as stupid, shallow, and cynical as we all know that they are. In our media saturated world where people (and the press) demand to be constantly entertained, Fred Thompson fails miserably.

That is his greatest sin. He has broken the mold of what the press expects of a candidate and a campaign and is being punished for it. Not a very elevating reason to eliminate a candidate from serious consideration for the presidency but given the reality of presidential politics and the times we live in, it is perhaps not surprising.

By: Rick Moran at 9:10 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Low Flame In Fred Thompson's Belly?...

There is something refreshing in the astonishing ignorance demonstrated by Mike Huckabee when the candidate talks about foreign affairs. It’s just not something experienced everyday in the civilized world that we see one of the major party’s presidential front runners more knowledgeable about the bible than anything recently published in Foreign Affairs magazine about Pakistan.

If this race continues the way it is, we will be entertained with many more such moments of hilarity. Mike Huckabee is the first candidate in a while who needs a team of aides to spread out after he speaks and tell the press what the candidate really meant when he stuck his foot so far into his mouth his nosehairs were tickling his kneecap:

Explaining statements he made suggesting that the instability in Pakistan should remind Americans to tighten security on the southern border of the United States, Mr. Huckabee said Friday that “we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities, except those immediately south of the border.”

Asked to justify the statement, he later cited a March 2006 article in The Denver Post reporting that from 2002 to 2005, Pakistanis were the most numerous non-Latin Americans caught entering the United States illegally. According to The Post, 660 Pakistanis were detained in that period.

A recent report from the Department of Homeland Security, however, concluded that, over all, illegal immigrants from the Philippines, India, Korea, China and Vietnam were all far more numerous than those from Pakistan.

In a separate interview on Friday on MSNBC, Mr. Huckabee, a Republican, said that the Pakistani government “does not have enough control of those eastern borders near Afghanistan to be able go after the terrorists.” Those borders are on the western side of Pakistan, not the eastern side.

Further, he offered an Orlando crowd his “apologies for what has happened in Pakistan.” His aides said later that he meant to say “sympathies.”

He also said he was worried about martial law “continuing” in Pakistan, although Mr. Musharraf lifted the state of emergency on Dec. 15. Mr. Huckabee later said that he was referring to a renewal of full martial law and said that some elements, including restrictions on judges and the news media, had continued.

Anyone who still thinks Mike Huckabee has what it takes to lead this nation as President in the extremely perilous days ahead after watching and listening to him flail about the last couple of days needs a reality check.

That’s not exactly what I wanted to say. I wanted to say that anyone who still supports Huckabee after his performance regarding the Bhutto assassination is an idiot, or should have their head examined, or should be disenfranchised, or should run off and start their own party. They could call it the “Idiotic, Superstitious, Religious Fanatic and Intellectual Twit Party.”

I wanted to say all of that but I’m glad I didn’t. People don’t take you seriously if you go overboard in your criticism – even if those being criticized it deserve it.

The only question I have is will this indeed be a death blow to the Huckabee campaign? If it isn’t and Huckabee still does well in Iowa, and is viable through Super Tuesday and beyond, I will weep for the ignorance of the rank and file in the Republican party. Let them have their preacher man. Let them revel in that old time religion. Let them dream of segregating gays and people with AIDS lest their kids be exposed to the deadly sins of modernity and tolerance. Let them stick their heads in the sand and pretend that a lack of basic knowledge of the world around us should not disqualify someone to be president during a time of war.

The left has been fond of saying that Huckabee’s success is only what we conservatives deserve in courting and pandering to the religious right all these years. There is probably something to that criticism. After all, if Dennis Kucinich were a front runner on the Democratic side, we conservatives would be similarly gloating about chickens coming home to roost for the left.

But beyond such childish analysis is the very real and frightening prospect that Mike Huckabee, despite his demonstrated lack of expertise and knowledge about a vital part of the world where our enemies are making a supreme effort to win an important battle in the War on Terror, is still seen as presidential timber by perhaps a third or more of Republican regulars. I don’t know if that will be enough to get him over the top and win the requisite number of delegates for a first ballot victory at the convention. But it almost certainly will make him a player in the party and will give him a big say in platform deliberations and perhaps even the choice for Vice President.

All because nothing the Huckster says or does that reveals him to be unqualified for the presidency seems to matter to his legions of supporters.

By: Rick Moran at 8:03 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Huckabee's Critics Growing Louder...

UPDATE: 5:10 Central Time

Success! As of now, our Blogburst for Fred has helped the campaign raise almost $254,000 which is more than enough to keep Fred on the air throught the Caucuses. A strong showing there will almost certainly rekindle interest in the campaign from some GOP whales who may have questioned whether Fred could go the distance. That should ease some of the financial crunch and allow the campaign to go forward in a competitive posture.

You did it guys. Without you, this effort would have been stillborn. If you’re going out tonight, tip one back for yourself – and for Fred. You both deserve it.

I sent the following email to some of the conservative bloggers who are participating in the Blogburst for Fred Thompson:

As of 6:00 AM central, the amount raised toward funding the campaign’s ad buy in Iowa stands at $145,000. This is about $104,000 short of the announced goal of $248,800 which must be raised by 6:00 PM tonight.

Sean Hackbarth of Fred “08 has nearly 100 blogs listed as participants in the blogburst. I know there are probably a couple of dozen more out there just from my own surfing. This is a remarkable testament of support for Thompson among conservative blogs. And the fact that we’ve raised as much money as we have is also indicative of what we can accomplish when we work together.

But now I have another favor to ask. Could you please post an update to the Blogburst today at the top of your blog asking people to give to the campaign with a link to the contributions page at the campaign website? We need another boost from blogs today to put the campaign over the top and give Fred a shot at being competitive in Iowa.

The latest Strategic Vision poll puts Fred a reasonably strong third at 15%, trailing Hucakbee (29%) and Romney (27%) and virtually tied with McCain (14%). Fred must do better and he can – with your help.

Thanks to all of you for your cooperation.


Rick Moran

If you gave during yesterday’s Blogburst for Fred, there’s no law that says you can’t give again today – unless you’re maxed out at $2300 for the year in which case you can make the donation in the name of your spouse (ask her first, please).

If you didn’t give yesterday, please do so today. Or do you want President Huckabee apologizing whenever some al-Qaeda nutcase offs a world leader? Or President Hillary announcing how much she “feels the pain” of the rest of the world when tragedy strikes?

Or maybe you want an adult in charge:

FRED THOMPSON: It is a tragedy, of course. It reminds us that things can happen in faraway places of the world that can affect the United States. I think this should be of great concern to us. It is almost a perfect storm in a very bad sense because two forces are operating against each other that are both desirable. One is democracy: they were making progress in that regard in that country. Former prime minister Bhutto was an important part of that process. But the other is stability. Pakistan is a nuclear country, and we cannot afford to let nukes fall into the hands of dangerous Muslim radicals. We are hoping those two things can be balanced out. We can see the continued progress toward a democratic society but also maintain stability in the country, which seems to be very much in doubt right now.

FAULKNER: I know you are running for the White House, so I don’t want to put you in a position to second guess the president. But I’m interested in your opinion. President Bush is due to talk with Pervez Musharraf shortly. What do you anticipate that conversation should be like?

THOMPSON: Those two things that I mention probably would be high on the agenda. What could be done to not impose martial law, to not crack down, but be mindful of the fact that there are radical elements in that country, and perhaps even within the government, that would like to see instability and chaos and see those weapons fall into the wrong hands. This is part of a bigger problem. We need to understand that this is not a criminal investigation any more – so we find the bad guys and bring them to justice – it’s a war.

This proves again the mindset of the radical elements that we are dealing with. We are seeing this all across Northern Africa and various places. We’re seeing it across the Middle East and in parts of Asia including Indonesia and other places. We have to come to terms with that and do the things necessary to prevail. One of the things we need to be talking about is what Musharraf can do, additionally, to crack down on the Taliban. I think they have been insufficient in that respect.

Calm, measured, and solid. The other candidates talking about the crisis yesterday didn’t come close.

A man like this deserves the second look that Iowans are giving him. Doesn’t he deserve your support as well?

By: Rick Moran at 7:26 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)

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This article originally appears in The American Thinker

My name is Rick and I am an inveterate grouser.

I grouse about everything. If my peas inadvertently mix with my potatoes, I grouse about it. If it rains, I grouse about it. If the Bears lose, I grouse about it all week.

You get the picture. I am an absolute joy to live with.

But it is politics where my grousing truly reaches its zenith and sets me apart from your average, everyday, ordinary curmudgeon. If they had an Olympic event dedicated to the political grouse, I would be a gold medal winner every time. The Super Bowl, the World Series, the World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship – if they were dedicated to grousing about politics, I would be a legend in my own time.

Don’t believe me? Mention a Republican candidate for president and I can find 6 things wrong with him before you draw your next breath. I am that good. The sneering adjectives pour off my tongue like acid rain, covering the candidate with an invective designed to illuminate how utterly preposterous the notion that they are worthy of consideration for high office.

Some candidates are easier to grouse about than others. Mike Huckabee, for example:

A perfect choice – if we were going to elect a Preacher in Chief. His notions about creationism and gays are an excellent fit – for the 17th century. A man with a name that, if he were to be elected president, would make us the laughing stock of the civilized world. And a man whose views on issues like taxes, global warming, and foreign policy make him a favorite to go all the way to the convention – the Democratic Convention, that is.

Others are more difficult to find something to grouse about only because they are able to mask their deficiencies by employing the oldest political trick in the book; they coat their positions on the issues with a sheen of soothing platitudes and unctuous reassurances – all to mask the fact that a few years ago, they gave soothing platitudes and reassurances to describe the exact opposite position on the same issues.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mitt Romney circa 1994 during his campaign for the Senate against Ted Kennedy:

“As a result of our discussions and other interactions with gay and lesbian voters across the state, I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America’s gays and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent,” Romney wrote in the letter.

During that same campaign, Romney also stated his personal opposition to abortion, but said he would not seek to change state abortion laws. As proof, he cited his mother’s own 1970 candidacy for the U.S. Senate as an abortion rights supporter.

Romney also took the opportunity as governor to sign almost 200 waivers to allow ordinary people to marry gay couples:

Romney, who has cast himself as the staunchest Republican defender of traditional marriage, reportedly signed off on almost 200 one-day certificates allowing gay and lesbian couples to use unlicensed friends to preside over their weddings. Under an obscure state law, the certificates can be granted only to couples that get approval from the governor’s office.

Now, of course, Mitt has reinvented himself as a social conservative, casting himself in the starring role of anti-abortion champion and gay marriage abhorrer. This coating of fish oil smeared on his stands on the social issues of abortion and gay marriage make it extremely difficult for me to grab hold of the slippery flip-flopper and get specific in my grousing. So, I am left with the kind of general grouse that allows the candidate to slide through relatively unscathed while leaving a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that somehow, I’ve missed my target – or perhaps the candidate himself leaves me feeling nauseous.

Rudy, John, Fred, Duncan, (don’t get me started on Mr. Two First Names) all leave me feeling as if the Republican party has benched the first team out of pique and deliberately started the reserves and walkons in the championship game. Compare these candidates to the candidates Republicans fielded in 1980.

That field featured 2 future presidents (Reagan and Bush), 2 genuine intellectuals (Phil Crane and John Anderson), a future GOP presidential nominee (Dole), a Senate Majority Leader (Howard Baker) and one of the most charismatic politicians of his generation (John Connally).

Yeah, but this current group has Mike Huckabee – a man who never tires of mentioning that he “beat the Clinton political machine twice” while governor of Arkansas. All that proves is that what the Clinton political machine needed more than anything to win was, well, Bill Clinton. Now, if the Huckster had run twice against the Philanderer in Chief and won, that would be something to write home about. Instead, he walked into the governorship following Jim Guy Tucker’s conviction in a Whitewater related matter and then won two elections, including the race in 2002 where he ran against another Democrat with three names Jimmie Lou Fisher, barely winning with 53% of the vote.

Not exactly a powerhouse political record. In fact, most of the GOP candidates seemed to have run many of their campaigns against weak or damaged opponents. Rudy had a landslide victory against Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger who eked out a primary victory against Al Sharpton.

Not exactly the stuff of political legend.

Of course, the Democrats are no better. If the best they can do is Hillary Clinton – a woman whose negatives are more pronounced than her husband’s voracious appetite for the spotlight – you know the other party also suffers from a dearth of talent at the highest levels. I would mention Barack Obama but until someone shows up to fill out the suit he purportedly wears, I will forgo any grousing against him.

What I really need is a 12 step program to curb my grousing. Something like Politics Anonymous where you acknowledge your sins and resolve to correct the error of your ways. Here are a couple of steps I offer as suggestions:

Step I: I admit I am powerless to stop grousing about how bad GOP political candidates are and that my writing has become incredibly boring because of it.

Step II: I have come to believe that there will be no intervention by a higher power to supply us with candidates we can enthusiastically support – unless there’s a brokered convention and General Petreaus agrees to run for president which for me, would be incontrovertible proof of the existence of God.

Step IV: Made a searching and fearless inventory of all the faults of the candidates and came to the conclusion there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.

Step VII: Humbly acknowledge my inability to adequately describe how truly awful all the Republican candidates are and resolve to be less critical and more understanding of their shortcomings.

You can see as with any 12 step program, the process gets harder as you go along. As for my last suggestion, I would probably need some additional therapy in order to forgo the pleasure of skewering the candidates – about 10 years of additional individual couch work ought to do it, I think.

By: Rick Moran at 6:35 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Huckabee's Critics Growing Louder...

Saying “”It remains a vital interest of the whole world community to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran,” Germany’s warmongering Chancellor Angela (Hey…wasn’t Hitler a Chancellor too?) Merkel joined French President Sarkozy in virtually ignoring the recently released NIE on Iran and sticking to their plans to promote more sanctions against the mullahs.

Writing in the German daily Handelsblatt, Merkel showed eminently more sense than just about any leftist Democrat in the United States:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that heading off the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, with tougher sanctions if needed, remains a “vital interest” for the world community, according to a report Thursday. Iran’s nuclear program is “one of our biggest security policy concerns,” Merkel wrote in an article for the daily Handelsblatt, which the newspaper posted on its Web site ahead of print publication on Friday.

Germany, along with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, has played a leading role in addressing worries over Iran’s nuclear work.

Earlier this month, an American push for new sanctions was dampened with the release of a new US intelligence report concluding Iran had halted a nuclear weapons development program in 2003 and had not resumed it since.

Merkel did not refer specifically to that assessment, but wrote that “it is dangerous and still grounds for great concern that Iran, in the face of the UN Security Council’s resolutions, continues to refuse to suspend uranium enrichment,” Handelsblatt reported.

Compare Merkel’s attitude with the attitude of most lefties who, whenever Iran is mentioned these days, will hold the Iran NIE aloft a la Chamberlain coming home from Munich as proof of the mullahs benign intentions.

If their childish, irrational naivete weren’t so horribly, dangerously wrong, it might be funny. As it is, we have to keep reminding ourselves that these bozos might be in charge of American foreign policy next year – a thought that gives no end of amusement to the leaders of the Iranian regime, I’m sure.

What a terrible turn of events when pacifist Germany subtly criticizes America for “dangerous” thinking when it comes to Iran. A topsy turvy world, indeed.

By: Rick Moran at 5:00 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)


Two Hundred and Thirty One years ago yesterday, a barefoot, ill-clad army of 2,000 men crossed the ice choked Delaware River to surprise the Hessians at Trenton, giving George Washington his most important victory in the cause of American independence.

The story of how that victory came about is instructive to the cause of Fred Thompson’s campaign for the presidency and the reason for this blogburst today. Not because Fred resembles George Washington in any way or that a Thompson presidency would be as significant an event in history as the American revolution. But because when the chips were down and the cause all but lost, a very small group of Americans helped make the difference between victory and defeat.

Consider if you will the circumstances. Washington had been pushed out of New York by the British in a series of battles during the summer and fall where the Continentals had suffered one humiliating defeat after another. The Americans were levered out of New Jersey and forced to cross the Delaware to the Pennsylvania side of the river. There they waited grimly for the British to attempt a crossing and finish them off.

Patriots in New York and New Jersey began to lose heart, giving their oaths of allegiance to the King so they could trade and buy food for their families. The Congress fled Philadelphia for Baltimore which made Washington not only head of the military but titular head of the government as well. There was no food, no clothing, little in the way of arms and powder, no money, and no credit.

And to make matters worse, Washington’s army was set to disband after the first of the year. A last minute appeal to patriotism by Washington (as pitiful a missive ever written by the Great Man) salvaged the situation with a little more than half the army agreeing to re-up.

In short, things couldn’t get any worse for the patriot cause. Both friend and foe believed that American independence was a lost cause. But then two events were to occur that changed the fortunes of the war and turned the tide inevitably toward success.

The first fortunate happenstance occurred on December 23, 1776 when the first of Tom Paine’s “Crisis” essays hit the streets of America. “These are the times that try men’s souls…” had an electric effect on the citizens and the army. The second event was Washington’s audacious attack on Trenton, as unlikely and impossible a victory as has ever been recorded.

Washington devised a complex plan involving three separate columns crossing the river at three points and converging on Trenton by dawn on Christmas day. One of the columns failed to cross but the other two made it safely through the ice floes and stinging sleet and arrived on the New Jersey side of the Delaware – late but intact. It was madness crossing the river in the middle of an ice storm. But Washington had the perfect bunch to attempt the impossible; the seafaring men of the 14th Continental Regiment.

Better known to us as “The Marblehead Regiment,” these were the hard cases of the American army – a group of swaggering, swearing, spitting fishermen and common seamen led by a remarkable Brigadier by the name of John Glover. Under the guns of the British on Long Island, they ferried 10,000 men and horses across the East River in one night and part of a morning (aided by a heavy fog that obscured the retreat from prying British eyes). This movement forever earned them the gratitude of Washington who liked the spirit and pluck of the sailors as well as their fighting abilities; they held off the British singlehandedly at Pelham, New York in October once again aiding the escape of the bulk of the army.

But that Christmas night in 1776, they truly earned their spurs as they tirelessly rowed time and again across the river and back again, making their way through the ice choked waters in the worst conditions imaginable. Rain mixed with sleet and ice later turning to snow, the waves on the Delaware crashing over the bow covering the rowers with a sheet of clinging ice, the gunwales sometimes perilously close to tipping into the water and capsizing the boats – a certain death in a matter of minutes given the temperature of the water.

The fate of American independence rested with those 400 hardy souls who manned the oars that blustery night. And herein lies the reason for my little historical digression and an illustration of why, if you support Fred Thompson for President, this is the time to get the hell off the sidelines and start rowing the damn boat.

To be brutally frank in appraising the situation realistically, Fred Thompson’s chances of winning the nomination are not good. I will not attempt to snow you, gentle readers, with the idea that the Thompson campaign is anything but a hope and a prayer at this point. But where there is a will to fight, so there is a will to win. It doesn’t matter how many pundits, pollsters, and assorted “experts” have written off Fred Thompson. What matters is that there is still a chance, still life in the campaign, and still a belief that the race can be won. Your support is absolutely crucial to propel the campaign forward, to build on the momentum generated by Thompson’s bus tour through Iowa by giving as much as you possibly can.

The campaign has set a goal of raising $248,000 by sundown on Friday so that they can run a new ad in Iowa. This ad could make the difference and allow Thompson to make a surprise showing in the Iowa Caucuses a week from tomorrow. Exceeding expectations is the game now and this media buy could very well put Fred in a very strong position coming out of Iowa.

So climb aboard and grab an oar. Join the Marbleheaders for Fred and contribute as much as you possibly can to make this Blogburst a big success. Use the widget below or go directly to the contributions page here.

By: Rick Moran at 7:37 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (39)

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