Monday, April 23, 2007


[Text of an address to the Palatine Township GOP Committee on April 21, 2007; a similar but slightly changed address was delivered to the Park Ridge Republican Women on April 16. Don’t think the speech, totaling 5,000 words, went hours without end; it clocked at 35 minutes. It looks long here because it contains the full research that was edited out of the original presentation].

This talk is about Republican politics and the future of the nation…but first we start with the ancient high church religious Lenten service called Tenebrae. It leads up to the Easter observance…the season we are in right now. Tenebrae is observed in my own Catholic church and in various other modes also in high liturgical services conducted by variants of the Anglican and Lutheran.

Shadows and Darkness.

The word Tenebrae means “shadows” or “darkness.” It is usually observed on the evening of Wednesday of Holy Week and commemorates the forthcoming slow, agonizing death of Jesus Christ. The church is unlighted as you enter it on Wednesday night, except for a large triangular candlestick at the altar which holds fifteen burning candles. Gloom seems everywhere. The mission Christ came to fulfill has been seemingly lost…His hope that the world will be a better place seemingly dashed. And with His approaching death comes the realization that all the good He has done…all the healing…all the messages of love and forgiveness, of turning the other cheek, of loving our enemies…has been disproved and this world is the same old evil place it was when He came.

Failure. The liturgy that is sung expresses grief. The singing is done by men sitting in chairs facing the candlesticks as they intone the psalms and the Lamentations of the Jews. As they sing of their remorse, one by one the candles are snuffed out by altar servers…with the exception of the candle at the top of the triangle. Indeed things look black and are getting blacker all the time. Without being profane, it can be literally said that the world has gone to Hell and eternal darkness except for that single candle. Then the final candle is extinguished and the church, representing the world, is completely darkened.

Then there comes forth a low rumble, and a louder rumble…this noise symbolizing the convulsions of nature at the murder of the Son of God for which there assuredly can be no forgiveness…noise that recalls the time when the earth shook and the rocks were split and the dead came forth from their tombs. The rumble is made by the congregation in the darkness, overturning the kneelers, pounding on the pews—the rage of nature thqat once again it has been betrayed…and once again all is futile and failure.

Then, just when the darkness and noise become unbearable, there is a faint gleam of a candle in the distance…a gleam that moves toward us in the dark as this one candle is carried forward by a deacon…and this one candle is placed on the altar. It is the Light of the World from the One who has conquered death…telling us that there is still hope…forgiveness for sin…that death is not the final act…that there is hope for us all. The congregation leaves at that point, stumbling through the dark that is only slightly illuminated by that one candle…but stumbling with hope.

Jewish Intellectual Attainments.

That is the Christian message. Indeed not just Christian. It is the human message throughout all history—Christian and non-Christian…telling us that there is the possibility…just the possibility…of a happy ending for all of us who believe in God. That same message can be witnessed in the inexorable struggle of the Jews…the first people to formulate the concept of One God. The nation’s most renowned student of the history of the human spirit, Charles Murray in this issue of Commentary magazine detailed his view and that of others that the indomitable Jewish spirit was forged on an anvil of oppression…a spirit winnowed through persecution, beginning with their capture by the Babylonians where the oppressor cherry-picked so to speak to capture only the hardiest Jews, the brightest, those with the greatest fighting spirit and sagacity and send them into bondage.

The remainder died off, drifted off, married to those not of their faith and were assimilated. Those held in captivity emerged after millennia of persecution and discrimination to their status now. Despite the Holocaust and generations of legal persecution and injustice, they have not just survived, they dominate the intellectual firmament. Two-tenths of one percent of the world’s population, they have won 14 percent of the Nobel prizes in literature, chemistry, physics and medicine since the Prize was instituted. In the second half of the 20th century alone, when Nobel prizes were extended to the entire world, Jews won 29 percent of all the prizes. So far in the 21st they have won 32 percent. That is not just the happenstance of persecution but deliberate conditioning. Marrying for brains has been engrained in the Jewish culture (we smile at the Jewish mother extolling that her daughter just married a doctor!). But this is not either ethnic nor cultural happenstance. The Talmud verse 49a instructs that “a man should sell all his possesses to marry the daughter of a scholar as well as to marry his own daughter to a scholar.”

Debasement of Our Culture.

Their survival represents the light of the world as well as for Christians. Today however there is a sickening return to the reality of Tenebrae for both Christians and Jews. It appears on the human sanctuary the lights are going out due to terrorism…debasement of the popular culture…a terrifying cheerleading from within our own ranks for our defeat…all of which encircle us with gloom. A few candles are still burning—but if America loses in Iraq and its world mission is rebuked, the gloom that will engulf us will be insidious. Once it could have been said that America’s two parties shared the same goal of Judeo-Christian heritage…which girded them to enable us for survival. As a journalist I saw men and women of both parties…Democratic and Republican…enlist in the water brigades to quench the fires threatening to engulf humanity—securing victory over Hitler and later victory in the Cold War. But sadly…and this statement is made in extreme sadness, not partisanship…only one party is geared for victory. And that is why we are here today.

First, the Bad News.

I tell you in truth…as one who became politically aware as the only son of a cogently aware family in the 1930s…that in my view we are nearly at the impasse of the two decades where there was no hope of alternatives to one party in election of presidents. We are in danger of revisiting that scene again. So much danger that it is frightening.

The Iraq War which I support and the presidency which I endorse, nevertheless lie at the heart of the problem. The Bush presidency, so weakened, seems unable to adequately defend. Republicans who took over Congress in 1994 began as “movement people”…people imbued by the movement embodying thrift, lower taxes, returning government to a smaller size, defending our cultural heritage including the unborn, including in a number of cases term limits. The “movement” was transformed in some aspects to “politics as a business,” concentrated on money-raising and the marketing that can enable them to get reelected by twisting the truth. Then “politics as a business” became in some variants a “racket”…how to do errands for the lobbies on K street and collect PAC checks as a result…figuring out how 501© (3)s can sponsor trips to southern spas where speeches can be delivered and contacts made that can reward and return with largesse for the future. Ending in corruption.

The movement died. And it has not been resurrected. Today in Washington as the president flounders, on the Hill it is every man for himself. The candles are being snuffed out. Am I sanguine that Republicans can regain their moorings? No, but I have seen them do it nationally and in two states where I lived. But this time despite all the reform and re-concentration, there is a new opponent aligned with ours. Once it could be said that organized labor with its indentured collection of dues…and I am a member of two unions…joined with the Democratic party was tough to beat. Well, that coalition still exists but never before has another alliance sprung into being that is virtually insuperable—an alliance between information carriers…journalists, news marketers, news producers, news networks and giant newspapers and news magazines…and the twisted secular religion of political liberalism that teaches the fallacious doctrine of the Enlightenment that rather than God becoming man, man can become God and be disloyal to old covenants and truths.

Major Media Foster Anti-Americanism…

I refer of course to the phenomenon of the popular major media. This is a group that serves similar to a football referee with whistle hanging about his neck who is just interested in calling offside or urging fairness…but bets on one side and actively joins in the playing field. And the results of this alliance are plain to see.

…take Polls to Justify Earlier “Reporting”…

A recent CBS/New York Times poll finds that only 39 percent now believe invading Iraq was the right thing to do. Are we surprised? Of course not. CBS and the New York Times have sold this idea from the start as soon as the going got tough. Fifty-nine percent think we should leave Iraq tomorrow. Are we surprised? Of course not. CBS and The New York Times have trumpeted this since the early days, notwithstanding the danger that will come to this country; indeed it can be said they are unconcerned about the danger because they inwardly seek, some of them, the interior satisfaction of America being punished for thinking itself invulnerable. This nihilism comes from our Ivy League universities as well as others.

…then Report Poll “Findings” as News.

An ABC/Washington Post poll finds that 63 percent do not trust the administration to report honestly about possible threats from other countries.

Are we surprised? Of course not. Major media outlets tout this every day as masquerade of news in prime time. Then there is the generic question, propounded of the American people by Hotline, the Internet political news gatherer. It asks: Without specifying the candidates, would you elect a Democrat or a Republican president if the election were held today? Democrat say 47 percent. Republican say 29 percent. Among registered Democrats how many would back a Democrat for president? Eighty-seven percent. Among Republicans how many would back a Republican for president? Only 71 percent.

This question the Hotline asked of professed independent voters: Would you back a Democrat or Republican for president if the election were held today? A Democrat say 35% of the independents. A Republican say 17 percent. Undecided say 15 percent. No answer say 33 percent.

The attendants are slowly snuffing out the candles in this Tenebrae, ladies and gentlemen. The news…the nightly news…the morning news… NBC Today…CBS Early Morning…ABC World News…CNN World News…the news in big black ink on our major newspapers and newsmagazines…the news is killing us with greater magisterial force than I have seen it in my seventy-eight years. The news written by men and women unsympathetic not just to conservatism…but unsympathetic to our country. They want us to lose. And for the second time in American history the likelihood exists that at the same time we are feeling the attacks on us overseas, we are feeling the assault on our soldiers and president by a group that wants to snuff out the lifeline of funds to support their mission. Can you imagine a Congress in the Second World War that would seriously consider cutting this lifeline to our troops? Or a Congress during the Korean War? I cannot—and I have seen them as an adult. A coalition of Democrats and our weaker brothers and sister Republicans ended the Vietnam war by throwing in the towel and are threatening to do this again with the aid and comfort of the major media.

The president’s standing is at 36.4 percent, one of the lowest in history. Three percent…only 3%...of all Republicans are willing to be called “George Bush Republicans.” Our prospective candidates for president are all very human, let me tell you and the media are spotlighting them in chiaroscuro. Rudy Giuliani who leads the polls is anathema to the New York Times because it says he inflicted injury on civil liberties as mayor by returning Times Square from a jungle to civilization. Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith is called bizarre. Newt Gingrich, whom Henry Hyde has truly called similar to Winston Churchill in that he is 50 percent genius and 50 percent nuts, is a brilliant formulator but as the media never tire of saying, he met his third wife while cheating on his second: alas, it is true! John McCain once idolized by a media who once thrilled to his exploits as prisoner in one war is now disdained because he wants to win this war…they don’t know what to think of Fred Thompson but once he makes plain that he wants this country to win, they’ll think of something.

With the deacon moving swiftly to snuff out the last candle, do you hear the rumble? The earth sounds like it’s splitting in two. And the rumbles goes on and goes on…this is the period we are engulfed in now. But there now shines one small light—one solitary candle that says there is hope for what historian Thomas Babbington Macaulay called “the stupid party”—by which he meant the Tories, ancestors of our own. Now let’s look at the bright side, illuminated by that candle.

Correcting Major Media Falsehoods.

First, the Bush unpopularity. He is unpopular just as every wartime president has been who is not trouncing the enemy…as Lincoln was…as even FDR was after the surprising of the Battle of the Bulge where Gallup showed his ratings tumbled swiftly by 20 points…and as Truman was with Korea. Will Bush’s unpopularity overhang the campaign? It’s likely not to. Attitudinal polls taken in 1952 saw Adlai Stevenson losing not because of Truman but because he was running against an enormously popular five-star general of the army who ran the greatest invasion in the history of man.

Second, will Bush’s current low esteem affect his stature in history? Not if we take care that it be protected and not allow the Left to demonize him in history as it has currently. Harry Truman left office in the middle of a war that was going nowhere with a 27 percent approval rating…the lowest in all history…lower than Nixon’s just before resignation…but now he is regarded as either near-great or great due to his decisiveness. Was he despised? The Chicago Tribune ran this story in 1951. A man standing at a crowded bar in the Bismarck Hotel told the bartender angrily that he was ready to “go to Washington to shoot that little so-and-so!” The bartender, alarmed, called the cops who called the Secret Service. A group of plain-clothed federal officers walked into the bar just as the man was paying up and said, “sir, we’d like a word with you.”

They said, “you have been reported to have said within earshot of people in this bar that you were going to go to Washington and shoot President Truman.” The crowd of bar-hangers on nodded affirmatively. The man said excitedly, “Wait a minute! I said I wanted to shoot that little so-and-so in Washington but I never mentioned the president!” The Secret Service agent said, “that won’t do you any good, sir. What other little so-and-so is in Washington?”—and the crowd to a man nodded.

Third, because the Republican Congress spent like drunken sailors is the stain irremovable? The image “drunken sailors” was coined by an editorial writer in Robert R. McCormick’s then conservative Chicago Tribune and was applied to the Democrats who then ran Congress. While the Tribune was right, the term didn’t hurt the Democrats although it has regularly been applied to them ever since and won’t hurt the Republicans now—but they must reform.

Generic Popularity Means Very Little.

Fourth, what about generic unpopularity—the fact that more people say they will vote for a Democratic presidential candidate name unknown than a Republican? Generic popularity has been cited often by the two parties but historically has meant very little. A majority said they’d favor a Republican president by a wide margin in 1948, the year they elected Democrat Harry Truman. A majority said they’d favor a Republican president in 1960 when they elected Democrat John Kennedy. They said they wanted a Democratic president in 1968 when they elected Republican Richard Nixon. They said they wanted continuation of a Democratic president on election eve 1980 when McNeil-Lehrer said the election was too close to call…when voters elected Ronald Reagan 43 million to Jimmy Carter’s 37 million and John Anderson’s 5 million—giving Reagan 489 electoral votes, Carter 49 and Anderson 0.

Fifth, what about the blunders, the glitches in governing, the mistakes in Iraq, Rumsfeld’s firing, the change of generals, the troubles of Alberto Gonzales? In Korea, Truman fired his secretary of defense who had fought a military buildup, a businessman noted only for being his top campaign fund-raiser—Louis Johnson. He fired 5-star general of the army Douglas MacArthur who came back and addressed a joint meeting of Congress saying, rightly, there is no substitute for victory. Governing gone bad? Truman had 106 IRS officials who turned crooked and fired one right after another three—count`em—IRS commissioners one of whom was reputed to have unsavory connections with the Attorney General. The attorney general hired a special prosecutor but when the special prosecutor got too close to sniffing out scandal, the AG fired him.. Then Truman fired his own AG, J. Howard McGrath. The comedian Fred Allen shouted: “Somebody please fire Truman!”

Liberal Historians List the “Great Presidents.”

Sixth, does the media and its ally liberal academe have the power to inculcate so-called “great” presidents? Actually yes and this must be guarded against. In the late `60s, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. convened a group of liberal historians like himself and had them vote on the “greatest” presidents and the “failures.” Not surprisingly, the “great” modern ones were liberals, the “failures” were conservatives.

From those early unscientific surveys, we were told as a given that Truman was a “great” or “near great” president. The reputation overshadows the facts. What made him great, the Marshall Plan? We are told that the Marshall Plan “saved” Europe. Did it? France, Germany and Italy began their economic recoveries long before the Marshall Plan was inaugurated. Britain got twice the Marshall Plan aid Germany did but British economic growth and employment lagged far behind Germany’s. Why? Because Britain’s liberal economics failed and Germany’s economic miracle succeeded based on free market reforms. But isn’t it an axiom that federal aid resurrects economies? Not always. Hong Kong with shortage of land and water, no local power resources, no coal, no oil and few raw materials, made it without foreign aid because it embraced free markets. Where else did Truman fail to meet the challenge of the Cold War? He tried to institute a coalition government between Chiang kai Shek and Mao Tse Tung, cutting off funds to Chiang. Which failed and led to the loss of 400 million allies to Communism, a situation that still lasts today. Answer: Yes, liberal academe and liberal media can create “great” presidents if we are foolish enough not to do our own research and allow the Left full sway.

Seventh, why do Americans think the country is going to hell in a hand-basket when Bush’s troubles are just a variation of what happened before to presidents good and bad? Because major media do not report history except when it suits them. They are not now just liberal but anti-American, not just critical of the country but leaning anti-patriotic. Abraham Lincoln had a word for such media critics in the Civil War—“copperheads” named after the snakes he killed in Kentucky and rural Indiana. Let’s take a look at various “copperhead” media oracles…starting with the most glaring, fork-tongued one of all…Time magazine.

Time Weeps for Reagan.

A recent cover of Time shows a photo of Ronald Reagan on which an artist has drawn a tear coursing down his cheek with the headline reading: How the Right Went Wrong. The headline is taken from the title of a book by Pat Buchanan who on the issue of the war has become an ally of the left-wing media…along with Joe Sobran, John McLaughlin the resigned ex-Jesuit priest and others. These are woeful predictors of America’s future defeat and hearken back to the old era when two oceans that separated us were sufficient for protection. Along with the Left, they are essentially “Copperheads.” Some even to the point of carrying a grudge against Abraham Lincoln for winning the Civil War.

Now Time says Bush and the Republicans are disloyal to the Reagan Revolution. Its cover story says, “These are gloomy and uncertain days for conservatives. Set adrift as it is, the right understandably feel anxious…The principles that propelled the movement have either run their course or run aground or have been abandoned by Reagan’s legatees.” Reading this mournful epitaph one would imagine that Time supported the Reagan Revolution. This is what it said about Reagan on November 2, 1987 after Reagan rebuilt the military and spurred the economy with tax cuts. It was angry because Mikhail Gorbachev, the man it later credited with ending the Cold War—bypassing Reagan—had canceled a Summit meeting.

Time wrote: “It is the Reagan Illusion. The idea that there could be a defense build-up and tax cuts without a price, that the country could live beyond its means indefinitely. The initial Reagan years with the aura of tinseled optimism had restored the nation’s tattered pride and lost sense that leadership was possible in the presidency. But he stayed a term too long. As he shouted befuddled Hooverisms over the roar of his helicopter last week or doddered precariously through his press conference, Reagan appeared embarrassingly irrelevant to a reality that he could scarcely comprehend. Stripped of his ability to play host to Mikhail Gorbachev, he elicted the unnerving suspicion that he was an emperor without clothes.”

This was from Time in November, 1987, one year before his second term ended in one of the most productive presidencies in all history…a presidency where he tamed inflation…bringing the rate from 13 percent to under 2 percent, rounding it off at an acceptable 4 percent…a term where unemployment dropped from 7.5 percent under Carter to a very acceptable 5.3 percent with 118 million employed, the highest level of any point in history—five new jobs for every minute he held office.

The next week, Gorbachev met with Reagan at the Summit but it didn’t please Time which honed its axe on its old agenda. This is the Summit, remember where Gorbachev delivered an unilateral reduction in Soviet armed forces and ordered the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and tanks from eastern Europe and Afghanistan. The “Star Wars” negotiation was causing Gorbachev to calculate that his statist economy couldn’t match a free economy—a conclusion nurtured when he allowed Reagan to lecture on capitalism at Moscow University. This is what Time reported:

“Who’s in charge? Reagan’s tepid and grudging reactions—reluctant and uncomprehending—confirmed a suspicion in many minds that Reagan, a lame-duck with 15 months to go in hi second term, was presiding over an administration bereft of ideas and energy.” It compared Reagan to Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman saying “Reagan seems to invite the thought that he has found a new model, the Salesman, in the last act, standing on a stage about to go dark.”

The Unreported Economic Boom.

Seventh, why if the lagging economy was item number one in other years…especially in George W. Bush’s early first term…is not a booming economy important to report now? Of course. And it’s more than just George W. Bush. Following Reagan’s tax cuts and Paul Volcker’s victory over inflation, the U. S. economy has been in recession just 5 percent of the time. During high-tax, high regulation years…1969 to 1982…some of these Richard Nixon’s years…the economy was in recession 32 percent of the time. Bush’s economy is equal or better than the Clinton economy in almost every area. For the current recovery, during its first 64 months, real average hourly earnings are up 1.8 percent and unemployment is down to 4.4 percent.

Eighth, why are we told a favorite doctrine of liberal academe and the Democratic party passed along in the shape of “news” that the tax system benefits the rich? Because that it the major media agenda. We are not told that those who made more than $87,300 in 2004…the top 10 percent…paid 70.8 percent of all income taxes. Ten percent pay seven out of every ten dollars with their share of the burden rising. That’s why keeping the Bush tax cuts and adopting others plus tax reform is a necessary sell that can get us back in 2008.

Good News: The Old Media Are Dying.

We have just seen one candle that symbolizes hope. But others are being lighted. That’s because the Old Media which have been sitting on and dangerously misshaping the truth are dying, failing…at least not growing. That includes the TV networks, national newsmagazines, most if not all of the major daily newspapers. Growing are cable networks like Fox, talk radio and the Internet. More young people get their news from the Internet and other sources than from the big newspapers or networks. Today in Chicago, the Sun-Times lives in the Valley of the Dead, not competing against the Tribune but against the Tribune’s creation, “Red Eye” which is designed for youth…but which if you’ve ever read its illiteracy, will make you doubt civilization has improved from the days when tribes scribbled on hardened mud in prehistoric Africa.

All the while, the Tribune went on the auction block and has been bought by billionaire Sam Zell. Whether he can save it is dubious since circulation and advertising has slipped to precarious levels. The Old Media are falling apart because essentially they are crooked, espousing marketing that supposedly appeals to a liberal reading market which does not exist except in the minds of relativist MBAs matriculating in an Age of Uncertainty from prestigious liberal universities. You and I should not patronize them except to discover what truths they are suffocating. I refer to Time…Newsweek…the U. S. News & World Report…the Washington Post…the St. Louis Post-Dispatch…the Christian Science Monitor…the Milwaukee Journal and a host of wannabe’s from smaller communities.

Also fated to be ignored by (I hope) more of us: CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, a so-called reporter who has just committed plagiarism by proxy, reading a piece as her own commentary that was stolen from the Wall Street Journal by her ghost-writer…NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams…and ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson. CNN’s news offerings should also be ignored. They are all indebted in one way or another to the spewing font of all liberal and increasingly anti-American bias, The New York Times.

You Should Read and Watch…

We should be watching Fox News, listening to talk radio and reading a variety of pro-American writing including The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, magazines like The Weekly Standard, National Review and the newspaper columns of Charles Krauthammer, Michael Barone. Locally the columns of John Kass and the Op Eds of Dennis Byrne, the only two conservatives allowed in the newspaper which does not know what it believes, the Tribune. So called “political columns” mostly reflect the mal-education and liberal knee-jerk-ness of their originators: Sun-Times columns by Carol Marin and Jennifer Hunter—although I would draw an exception for Lynn Sweet since, ideology aside (which she is honest enough not to disavow) she is the best political reporter on a daily beat here which includes Washington and Chicago. I find the City Hall writings of Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times extraordinarily perceptive. Of course with the cartoons of Jack Higgins there you have an artist without peer in the nation.

A Better GOP Choice than Many Others in the Past…

Don’t be misled by believing the major media that this year’s selection of Republican presidential candidates are below par. Of all the years that I have been watching and participating in campaigns, this year’s choice is the best. In 1936 when I began presidential-watching, there was a Kansas governor (Landon) and a freshman Michigan Senator (Vandenberg)—the Kansas governor was chosen: an intellectual light-weight. In 1940 there was a pompous public utility executive, a former Democrat who never voted Republican (Willkie), a very young District Attorney (Dewey), a brilliant but uncharismatic Ohio Senator (Taft) and a malleable Michigan Senator (Vandenberg): the public utility executive was nominated. In 1944 there was a young New York governor (Dewey) and a junior Ohio Senator (Bricker): the New York governor, a slicker in style was chosen. Four years later the same New York governor was chosen who booted his chance by the arrogance of assuming he would win without much contest.

…but Ike vs. Taft was Extraordinarily Good…

In 1952 the choices were extraordinarily good—a 5-star general (Eisenhower) and a veteran conservative senator (Taft), one of the great legislators of the time. The general was chosen and went on to win election. Four years later the general was chosen for renomination. In 1960 in a test between a callow, unctuous vice president (Nixon) and a New York governor (Rockefeller), the unctuous vice president was named who lost. In 1964 a forerunner of a modern conservative was pitted against a re-tread New York governor and the conservative was chosen who lost, but not without residual benefit. Four years later the party fell trap to the unctuous ex-vice president who won over the aged New York governor. In 1972 the now unctuous president was reelected who had to resign. By 1976 the unelected president, Ford, was nominated over a far better man (Reagan). Ford lost to an ex-Georgia governor (Carter) and deservedly so by announcing that Poland was not a communist nation.

…the Choice in 1980 Except Reagan, Dismal…

Then we come to 1980, the year Reagan was nominated. That year’s selection list was uncannily poor—but Reagan was a standout in that year and throughout history. The selection included a liberal, tiny, almost dwarfish Tennessee senator who felt a tax cut would be a “riverboat gamble” in which he didn’t want to participate (Baker)…an ex-Democrat, ex-Texas governor friend of LBJ who just beat an indictment (Connally)…a Kansas senator who had become the first man to ever lose a debate to Walter Mondale, Bob Dole; a conservative Congressman who went on to an addiction to Heineken beer and to lose reelection in one of the strongest GOP districts in the country through neglect (Crane), a liberal congressman who left his party to run as an independent and then left independence to become a Democrat and deservedly forgotten (Anderson). And George H. W. Bush, not charismatic, a social liberal with great resume. Wisely, the party put Reagan and Bush together.

In 1988`the GOP had Vice President George H. W. Bush as the favorite, old mushy reliable Bob Dole as challenger, weird evangelical who frequently talked with God, Pat Robertson, former Delaware governor Pierre (Pete) DuPont, former secretary of state Alexander Haig and Congressman Jack Kemp who always gave the attitude that he came very late to ideas following his pro football career. Four years later he was re-nominated but had been seriously damaged by a challenge from paleo-conservative Pat Buchanan who was intent on re-drawing the entire conservative format, challenging free trade and immigration in addition to opposing a Bush tax hike. A third-party challenge by billionaire Ross Perot, who also challenged free trade, siphoned enough votes from Bush to elect Bill Clinton.

…the Dole Choice Awful…

After the Reagan-Bush years the party had the choice of Robert Dole one of the least inspiring and malleable politicians in many years because of a GOP presidential seniority system that pushed his name forward, former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander, magazine publisher Steve Forbes, Phil Gramm a Senator from Texas, Alan Keyes a conservative talk show host, Pat Buchanan and Bob Dornan a congressman from California. Of the group, Alexander, Forbes and Gramm were superb. Buchanan the paleo was dangerously out-of-date and Keyes had perfected nothing more than a pumping oratorical style that elevated fiery rhetoric over content. The choice of Dole reflected the party at its mediocre worst.

…the 2000 Choices Better…

Then came 2000 with George W. Bush, Steve Forbes as an excellent candidate but with no personality beyond a beaming face peering through thick spectacles, Alan Keyes who probably purposely wanted to queer his chance of getting elected to anything by adopting extravagantly conservative positions and Gary Bauer who sought to prove that if an unattractive midget with an evangelical agenda can run having done nothing else but preaching, anybody could.

…and This Year’s is Excellent.

This year the selection is very-very good. You have a hero mayor of New York, determined to win the war in Iraq and against terrorism…a hero ex-POW who is fulsomely dedicated to winning the war in Iraq…an outstanding ex-governor of Massachusetts who is one a person might well hire as president…and a famous face who is ex-prosecutor, ex-Senator and current nationally known actor. Even the lesser lights are good—Brownback, a California congressman named Duncan Hunter, a former Wisconsin governor also named Thompson and—who else? Oh yes, the obligatory flake, Ron Paul.

We May Need to Elect a Rascal.

I leave you with a final word of advice. The threat of terrorism may require a change of talents in the presidency. In the past we have tended to look for a Jimmy Stewart or a Gary Cooper…the clean-cut, idealistic man symbolizing purity and virtue. Fine, but the next president may well have to rely on such characteristics as cunning, duplicity and nuance. Among those who had those qualities, Winston Churchill comes to mind. There was real consternation in Britain when he took over in 1939 because he had been regarded as a flake, a dangerous opportunist and an unpredictable soldier of fortune. All of these he was at one time or another. He had served in Britain’s two major parties—Liberal and Tory—as part of his application of Machievellian arts to politics. In the spirit of Tenebrae he was acquainted with darkness and gloom…having earlier charted a disastrous strategy in the Dardanelles in World War I, a mistake that would have killed any other politician. Through it all he knew agonized brooding and slow…painfully slow…recovery. He who had been called in prep school a dumbbell…too dumb to learn Latin…resolved at least to master the speaking and writing of English. Did he ever.

Listen to his address to Commons at Britain’s darkest point when all the candles were out and seemingly there was no hope of one being kindled ever again:

“What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization; upon it depends our own British life and the longstanding continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us now.

“Hitler knows he will break us in this islands or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sun-filled uplands. But if we fail, then the world including the United States…including all that we have known and cared for…will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister and perhaps more protracted by the lights of perverted science.”

Britain responded nobly as did the West. Now it’s our turn to respond, electorally. We have had our Dunkirk. Now we must win this election.

And so to paraphrase the greatest Englishman…the greatest leader of the West…let us therefore brace ourselves that if this republic lasts a thousand more years, men and women will always say “this was indeed a courageous hour of our democracy…leading to a turning point electoral victory that decided the fate of the West… and that crowned the greatest nation ever to thrive on the planet earth.”


  1. I voted for Democrats for President from McGovern to Gore. I couldn't stand Bush the first time around because I feared how the jokes he made about himself and his smarts would translate into Arabic among other languages.

    How eight years can change things. Lieberman is the only guy left among the Democrats. The rest of the party is completely alien to me.

    The whole GOP roster of contenders looks great to me right now. I'd vote for anyone of them.

    Let me get on record here I believe it will be Gore-Obama against one of the GOPers you've listed come 2008.

  2. Dear Tom:

    Thanks for all you do. I have read in the past (maybe your blog) that Reagan strongly considered Kemp but politically and wisely chose Bush. We can only speculate. Would this have made a difference. We still had an economic boom.


    Robert Nazareth
    I love your historical memories. Info I never learned in school.