Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today:
- Huckabee's Conversion on Illegal Immigration - The Fastest Recovery in Political History
- Romney's Faith in America Speech - What does it mean for the Evangelical Vote
- The White House Press Corp's Crazy Aunt in the Attic - Some of Helen Thomas' Latest Emissions
- Newt Gingrich on the CNN-YouTube Debate - Selection Bias at the Network
- Moral Equivalence Run Amok - on Slate's Political Gabfest
- Advice to a New Recruit in Iraq - Write your Momma Every Day
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Huckabee's Conversion on Illegal Immigration - The Fastest Recovery in Political History
I'm no fan of Mike Huckabee. His stand on taxation and big government drive me up the wall. Take this interchange during the CNN-YouTube debate on the question of federal support for a trip to Mars.
You've got to love Tancredo's realistic conservative comeback to Huckabee's call for more money. Later on Romney said that it reminded him of being Governor of Massachusetts, where people were constantly coming to him with great ideas that were wastes of taxpayer money. Another Huckabee flaw is his support for scholarships for illegal immigrants while governor of Arkansas. He was confronted about this expertly by George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week last Sunday. Thanks to the Corner for pointing out a post by David Sanders of the Arkansas News Bureau.
I'm going to read David Sanders posting here:
His logic capsized. Apparently for Huckabee, withholding college scholarships or in-state tuition from the children of illegal immigrants is tantamount to the state "punishing" students for the sins of their parents, but withholding Pell grants or financial aid from the children of illegal immigrants is tantamount to the federal government simply not "rewarding" these same students for the sins of their parents?
He is trying to have it both ways.
Stephanopoulos reduced Huckabee, who is often lauded for his rhetorical prowess, to the role of a verbal contortionist who tried to bend and spin his way out of unfamiliar territory. But when he forced Huckabee to project onto the presidency the logic and reasoning that guided him as governor, he exposed an incongruent position and an inherent weakness on an issue important to Republicans.
So with that performance behind him, the current Iowa front-runner Huckabee has been backpedaling fast. Today, four days later, he posted his
Plan for Immigration Enforcement and Border Security. It's a decent comprehensive plan to address the problem on the federal level, where most agree it should be dealt with. States and localities have been forced into silly positions by the millions of people who the federal government has allowed into the country illegally. The problem is that he came by this plan only after being called on it by a liberal media person like Stephanopoulos, formerly Clinton's press secretary. Can you imagine how his position on evolution vs. Intelligent Design will resound among the Democrats and independents in November, should he win the nomination? It won't be pretty.
Romney's Faith in America Speech - What does it mean for the Evangelical Vote
It's no secret that Romney has trouble convincing evangelical Christians that it would be safe to nominate a member of the LDS church for President. Many of the Christian conservatives just don't like what the church stands for, nor their aggressive conversion and missionary efforts. His religion is also a problem for the Democrats, who don't like anyone who wears their faith so openly. It makes liberals feel creepy. Here is NPR's Robert Seigel talking to Romney on religion last week. Thanks to the Corner for the pointer.
This problem of Romney's membership, and leadership, in the LDS church has been talked about frequently by the pundits on TV. Today, he gave a speech attempting to address the issues. His talk was modeled, claims the media, on a talk John F. Kennedy's gave as the Democratic nominee for President, when he attempted to address concerns with his Catholic faith. Here's a short clip from that speech to religious leaders in Houston, Texas on September 12, 1960, less than a month before the general election.
This speech is widely credited with enabling non-Catholics to feel safe voting for Kennedy in 1960. Romney felt he needed the same kind of response, so that religious conservatives in the Republican party were comfortable with his candidacy. Unlike Catholics in 1960, who represented somewhere around 25% of the electorate, the 4.9 milion members of the LDS chuch today are less than 2% of the U.S. population. This makes Romney's hill a bit steeper to climb than what Kennedy faced. Here is an excerpt from today's speech by Romney at the campus of Texas A&M University at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. Thanks to C-SPAN for the audio, and the Corner for the transcript.
Byron York on the Corner on National Review Online had this to say after the speech:
I just spoke with Oran Smith [of the Palmetto Family Council], who watched the speech in Columbia, South Carolina with a small group of religious conservatives. (He convened the group at the request of CNN, which watched the speech with them.) Smith told me that he liked the speech, and thought Romney had helped himself, but that reaction was mixed within the group.
"I was the most enthusiastic," Smith said, "because there were several things that resonated with me that only an evangelical would notice. For instance, he talked about the coldness and deadness of religion in Europe. That is something that is talked about in evangelical churches almost every Sunday - somebody will say, 'The mission trip to Wales is starting next week.' Mike Huckabee might say something like that, but that's not something you would say unless you had a really good speechwriter or you were very tuned in to evangelicalism."
Who knows if it will stem the rising tide of Huckabee among the Republicans in Iowa. I can only hope.
The White House Press Corp's Crazy Aunt in the Attic - Some of Helen Thomas' Latest Emissions
Helen Thomas has a front seat for every White House Press Briefing, and manages to say something stupid, irritating, and downright wrong in just about every news conference. Here is an except from several recent episodes of the Helen Show. The first is from November 28, when she misread a news report that said the following.
BAGHDAD, Nov. 27 -- American troops in Iraq killed at least five people, including a child, when they fired on vehicles trying to drive through roadblocks in two separate episodes over the past two days, military officials and witnesses said Tuesday.The headline:
Beyond that, at least 30 other people were killed or found dead on Tuesday, including three women and three policemen in Baquba, who were killed by a suicide bomber disguised as a shepherd.
35 Are Killed in Iraq, 5 by U.S. TroopsHere's Helen's spin on the news, begging not for a response so much as the heavens to open and President Bush to resign and hand the reigns of power over to Helen herself.Thanks to the Media Blog on National Review online for the pointers to the best bits, and to the White House web site for the audio.
No Helen, it was not 35 killed by Americans, it was 5 killed by Americans, and 30 more murdered by the enemy. Fool. Here's another. It starts with another media type asking for comment, and Helen comes back with her question.
No Helen, the President does not want Hillary elected. Fool. Finally, here she is at her most incomprehensible self, asking about troop withdrawals. How Dana Perino can put up with her on a daily basis is a mystery to me.
Move on, indeed. Helen is a fool and should pull herself out of the White House Press Corps. She was interviewed by the Huffington Post the other day. Here's what the good Helen had to say about mistakes by the press:
What would you say to a young reporter who, in their exuberance, published something that turns out to not be true?So Helen, if it's such good advice, why don't you take it yourself?
If it isn't too earth-shaking, then I would assure them, "This is what you did wrong..." and give them a second chance. But I don't think you get another chance if you make a mistake involving a big story.
Do you think technology is changing that? That a good reporter will always find a venue because there are so many media outlets now?
No, but I do think it is kind of sad when everybody who owns a laptop thinks they're a journalist and doesn't understand the ethics. We do have to have some sense of what's right and wrong in this job. Of how far we can go. We don't make accusations without absolute proof. We're not prosecutors. We don't assume.
So if there's this amateur league of journalists out there, trying to do what you do...
What makes it dangerous? Isn't more information always better?
Not necessarily. Not if it isn't true. It could be out there and it could really muck up the whole picture. I'm not trying to suppress information; I'm just saying you have to be very careful.
My advice is simply try, as best you can, to only write the truth and try to check everything, and I think you just hope for the best. And, certainly, if someone gives you a story, I think you have to look a gift horse in the mouth. You have to find out why they're peddling it to you.
Always question why anybody does things. That's probably good advice for anybody.
Newt Gingrich on the CNN-YouTube Debate - Selection Bias at the Network
C-SPAN had Newt Gingrich on Book TV for one of their three hour interview sessions, talking about his books, politics, government, and the media. I spent the morning Sunday with the TV on listening while I did a little kitchen remodel. My wife asked why he doesn't run for President. I think his history as a target for Democratic anger and bile would make it tough for him to run. His negatives are just too high at this point. But he is a great thinker. He was asked his opinion on political debates. That's all Newt needs to go on a bender with a dozen great ideas in the space of two minutes and ten seconds.
Clearly if they get 5,000 questions to chose from, they can pick any political angle they want. And what they wanted was questions that put all Republicans on the defensive. Their claim that it was to separate the candidates rings hollow. They picked the silliest nuts they could find to embarrass the candidates.
Moral Equivalence Run Amok - on Slate's Political Gabfest
I listen to the Slate Magazine Political Gabfest Podcast every week, even though I disagree with almost everything they say. Last week they discussed the situation with the arrested English elementary teacher in the Sudan. This section starts off with David Plotz, who can barely speak out loud in front of his coworkers, rightly stating that the Sundaese are insane. (My advice to David: breath. It's called a diaphragm. Use it) But Emily Bazelon thinks that all fundamentalists are equally crazy, it's just that the Muslim ones
have more power. Sure, Emily. Watch out for those fanatical Lutherans trying to get you to eat their marshmallow lemon jellow in the shape of the great Satan.
Sure the Jewish settlers would be the same as the saber wielding maniacs in the Sudan. She's a nutter.
Advice to a New Recruit in Iraq - Write your Momma Every Day
I've been unable to join most of the Pentagon Blogger's Round Table conference calls lately, due to business commitments. The Pentagon invites around 50 bloggers to around 10-15 calls a week with an assortment of soldiers, officers, State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team members, and others who are dying to get the true story of Iraq out to the people of America. I was able to join one back on November 15, with BG Boozer, Deputy Commanding General for Multi-National Division North, talking about operation Iron Hammer and Its progress. The story was positive, but guarded. The military is having success reducing the violence and bringing essential services to the Iraqi people. We are training the Iraqi security forces to be able to take over when we leave, and the political progress is working from the ground up, if not the top down. All good stuff. Challenges remain with insurgents, special groups funded by Iran, and Al Qaeda holdouts. But the enemy is having fewer and fewer successful operations, and fewer good guys are dying or getting hurt. I took the call while riding the train from Portland to Seattle, so pardon the noise. I asked about Iranian weapons. Here's that question:
The General remarked early on that his son will be in Iraq next month, and I asked him what advice he gave him. The answer touched me deeply.
What a great piece of advice. I would give my son, if he were ever to serve in the military exactly the same suggestion. Call your momma every day.
That's it for now, podcatchers. I'm Charlie Quidnunc reporting from cold and snowy Helena, MT.