Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The fallout from New Hampshire

From The New York Times:

MANCHESTER, N.H. — After Senator John McCain’s victory here on Tuesday, the Republican field is more scrambled than ever, with the battleground now shifting to a series of states where each of the leading candidates believes he holds certain advantages.

The next showdown will be on Jan. 15 in Michigan, a vast state struggling with a recession and the loss of manufacturing jobs. It is where Mitt Romney was born and reared, and many still fondly remember his late father, George, a three-term governor. Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, will fly there on Wednesday afternoon, with his aides saying the state has become his fire wall.

But his campaign has clearly been crippled by a second loss, this time in a state where he even has a vacation home.

I never had the slightest doubt that McCain was going to win New Hampshire. It is a state whose primary process uniquely favors him in that registered independents can chose to vote in either party's primary. It is no surprise that independents, who generally tend to lean somewhat to the left, favored Mr. McCain heavily.

The question now is whether McCain will be able to continue winning in states where only Republicans can vote.

Republican voters in those states need to seriously consider whether they want to cast their votes for someone who can only win by appealing to the left. In the general election between McCain/Clinton or McCain/Obama those independents will find themselves faced with a choice between a liberal and a Liberal. In that kind of race they historically have chosen the Liberal.

Only when there has been as clear cut choice between as liberal and a conservative has the swing voters tended to favor the Republican side. As they did when Reagan ran against Carter and then Mondale. Even when the Republican has not been a genuine conservative, as with Bush father and son, they have appeared to be conservative in their campaigns.

There is one true conservative in this race, Fred Thompson. If you take Mitt Romney's word that his current positions are what he truly believes he is also a conservative. The other candidates on the Republican side range from a law-and-order liberal (Giuliani - think Mussolini with a smiley face) to a strident member of the religious left (Huckabee - and we need to be very careful of folks like him as the religious left are the ones who gave us prohibition, the progressive income tax and US involvement in WWI, not a good track record) to a certifiable kook who welcomes the support of white supremacists and 9/11 truthers and whose plan for fighting the World War against Islamofascism is to request the enemies terms of surrender (Ron Paul, the ass clown).

Clearly there is one good choice for Republicans and one acceptable choice. The rest are disasters in waiting if elected, but most likely unelectable.

The single greatest danger I see is that the compressed primary schedule will cause anyone who can win a few of the early voting states to be seen as the "unstoppable force" and gather support by default. Iowa's unusually high percentage of Evangelical voters made it natural Huckabee territory. New Hampshire's leftward tilt and practice of allowing independents to vote tipped it into the McCain camp. Michigan's wretched economy (a product of an extreme left-wing state government) has made it highly susceptible to a particularly ugly and detestable form of populism, think Germany in the late 1920's, look for Huckabee and Edwards to do well there.

NONE of these early states are really reflective of America as a whole but they have been granted a great deal of power to influence how the American people view the candidates.

My advice is to take a step backward and refocus on the ultimate goal we need to achieve, which is a genuine conservative in the White House.