February 26, 2007
In the Outlook section of Sunday's Washington Post, Republican pollster and campaign adviser Frank Luntz elaborated on his vision on how to help "the GOP get moving again." He reminds us that the 1994 Republican Revolution succeeded because it tapped into the discontent expressed by independent voters who rallied to Ross Perot in 1992. (Like me.) First and foremost, Luntz wants to curtail the nasty campaign tactics and rhetoric associated with Karl Rove. Beyond that, he insists that attracting a broader range of voters will necessitate facing up to real policy dilemmas. Bravo! His recommndation for the GOP, boiled down to the essentials:
Be bold, return to basics, stop telling, start asking, focus on results, abolish "earmarks" and embrace a permanent balanced budget.
Makes sense to me. I wouldn't want to insist dogmatically on a balanced budget amendment, any more than I would endorse an iron-clad commitment to cut taxes, regardless of the circumstances. But still, it's an appropriate general direction to head. I hope more Republican leaders listen to voices of reason such as Luntz. (On Feb. 1 I cited Robert Novak's column on him.)
Many self-styled "conservative" Republicans are loathe to make a strong campaign appeal to moderate voters, fearing that such a move would signify an abandonment of core conservative principles. They are dead wrong. Did Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich win over millions of moderate voters by pandering to the mainstream or offering a watered-down, compromise policy agenda? No. They each scored decisive electoral victories precisely because they promised clear, forthright conservative agendas, and then they followed through on them.
To me, the assertion that the Clintons are habitual liars is nothing new, which is probably why the big spat among Democrats last week evaded my attention. At a Hollywood fundraiser, entertainment mogul David Geffen said "everybody in politics lies, but they [the Clintons] do it with such ease, it's troubling." Bravo! The best take on this incident I could find was at Belmont Club. I would also have to concur with Mr. Geffen "that America was better served when the candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms." The withdrawal of Iowa's Tom Vilsack highlights the insanity of the current trend of ever-costlier premature presidential primary campaigns that weed out thoughtful candidates and yield mediocre nominees.