Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Let's Keep Our Eye on the Ball Republicans!

[Yes, another blog entry finds me tired and yet again sleep-deprived.  That being said, I feel these things need to be said.  I will revisit and proof after some hopeful sleep. Peace, Love & Stay informed.]

I did not like the format of last night’s Republican Primary debate at all.  Seeing the Presidential candidates seated informally next to one another, in such close proximity, did not bring out the best of these candidates to either the voting audience or the rest of country.  The candidates did not look at all Presidential in this 'relaxed' debate format, nor did they appear to be comfortable.  Quite frankly, seeing the Presidential candidates seated in such an informal forum, while attempting to discuss serious issues such as the very real threat of a nuclear Iran was almost laughable.  Perhaps this was yet another ploy by the liberal media to further diminish the Republican Presidential candidates in the eyes of potential voters for the upcoming November 2012 general election?

I DID happen to like the question from an on-line submission near the end of the debate: “What one word would you use to describe yourself?” Ron Paul answered with a predictable “consistent” ... albiet an out-in-left-field consistent. Santorum took a line from his own campaign mantra in focusing on “courage [courageous]." I had to smile at Romney’s adjective for himself: “resolute." Romney's deliverance of that word itself was resolute, as if to say “Hey, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. I am going to ride this election cycle through to the very end and win [unspoken explicative].” But it was Newt Gingrich’s jovial laughter in conjunction with his chosen adjective that I felt was perhaps the adjective that all of the candidates would do well to adopt at this point in the campaign: “cheerful.” Why? Because, last night's debate was perhaps the height of the hammering performances given by the candidates in a debate setting to date. It was almost too painful to watch the Republican candidates continue to tear one another apart in an effort to take the lead in the polls heading into the Arizona and Michigan primaries, with "Super Tuesday" just around the corner. At least, there was some concession and agreement --near the end of the debate-- on the very real threat of the nuclear Iran and what should be done with regards to current and future potential situations arising in the Middle East.

The Republican Presidential candidates REALLY NEED to start defining the narrative for the upcoming general election, instead of letting the media and the Obama Administration continue to dictate their narrative for them. The Republican Presidential candidates cannot afford to keep tearing one another apart, while simultaneously giving Obama a free-pass until after the August Republican National Convention. John King’s lead-in to one of the questions last night was “Since contraception seems to be a hot issue right now …” Why weren't rising gas prices and the fact that our current President vetoed the Keystone Pipeline a hot topic worthy of a formal question in this debate? Well now, let's see: contraception ‘seems to be a hot issue’... because the current administration has made it a hot issue in order to provide smoke and mirrors for the real issues facing the country right now. The Obama campaign gambled that the conservatives in the Republican Party would consume themselves with the "contraception issue" and they were right; that's exactly what the conservative base has done. We’ve “taken our eye off the ball”, so to speak, by continuing to let contraception remain THE issue. The candidates continually taking the media bait by attempting to explain their current and past statements/positions on contraception and other related social issues isn’t helping either. Enough already! Let it go and let’s keep our focus on the real issues facing our country right now (e.g., nuclear Iran, soaring gas prices, floundering economy, high unemployment, mounting national debt). Let’s keep our eye on the political ball so to speak. Now is NOT the time to focus on social issues and platforms.  Save the social issues for the party platform building at the National Convention in August!  Right now, our country has bigger problems; let's keep the campaign narrative focused on these.

[Side Note: You really have to stop for a moment here and give the current Administration credit for steering the election commentary towards the issue of "contraception", don't you?  Can you now, perhaps, see who the President really does not want to run against?  President Obama would love to have this campaign not be about the economy, sky-rocketing gas prices, no true energy-independence, people who have given up looking for work to give a false sense of "true unemployment", a soaring national debt, and weak foreign policy posturing that now heralds a potentially nuclear Iran.]

[Hah! Will that Blue Ball fit through the hoop? ; ) It's late and I'm tired ...
Not my best graphic, but it serves its purpose.]

Rick Santorum seemed to be the one taking the biggest beating in last night’s debate and inevitably so as he is currently the newest Republican front-runner.  I would hope, however, that voters seriously begin to question the merits of a candidate whose only strategy to date seems to be pointing out the negatives and shortcomings of others instead of offering meaningful solutions for the problems currently facing our nation.  No politician is perfect.  They all have probably voted for something in their past that they now regret.  In light of the ongoing negativity in this Republican Primary, it is imperative that voters be informed (i.e., get the whole story on negative attacks, verifying authenticity and context) and look at the big picture of a candidate's overall voting record.  Quite frankly, to me, the focus on negativity and tearing opponents down in order to get ahead is reminiscent of the type of campaign that Obama ran in the last presidential election ... offering intangible, nebulous "hope and change."  Look where that has gotten us.  Is that really where we want to go as a party?  Maybe, Rick Santorum is onto something when he refers to Mitt Romney as "Obama-lite."

Hopefully, Santorum can regroup and refocus after last night’s debate and get his 'A-game' on heading into the upcoming 14-state election primary contests that will unfold over the course of the next two weeks. Santorum absolutely has to keep his eye on the ball and stop taking the bait to steer his campaign commentary back towards social issues which in last night's debate started to paint him as a staunch (intolerant) social conservative. Social issues will wind up being Santorum’s Achilles heel if he keeps allowing his campaign to be defined by them.  Go ahead and court the conservative evangelical base, Rick, just be careful not to alientate the more moderate factions of your party, independents and the rest of the country. You have to keep your focus on the general election now. Your voting record speaks to your understanding of and willingness to embrace the "will of the people" ... use it; don't make excuses for it.

[Side Note:  I sincerely hope that Rick Santorum doesn't jump on the "all contraception is bad and promotes immoral behavior" bandwagon.  This is just where the liberal left and his current rivals for the Republican Presidential Nomination want Rick Santorum to go. To jump on this bandwagon would be such a sad, not to mention quick, way to derail a truly promising campaign. Don't bite, Rick! Stick to your previous position --from the beginning of your campaign-- when you stated that you "don't personally believe that contraception is right, but that you support an individual's right to choose for themselves."  And then remind everyone that your voting record in the Senate clearly supports the latter statement. Don't make excuses for your voting record.

Rick Santorum's statements in tonight's debate seemed (to me) to be an attempt to perhaps rally the evangelical conservative base of the Republican Party … And this is a legitimate campaign strategy. Whichever candidate decides to court this segment of the Republican base, however, should tread very, very carefully --in my humble opinion (myself being an Independent Republican)-- lest said suitor jeopardize their entire campaign by alienating the rest of the potential voting base in the short term … and the rest of the country in the long term.  The evangelical base of the conservative party can conceivably be rallied to support a given campaign (candidate) without said campaign having to back itself irreversibly into a staunch, rigid, self-righteous corner. Any suitor of the evangelical base should exercise extreme judiciousness in making public statements on sensitive issues like contraception. They should keep the primary focus of the campaign on the bigger issues facing our nation and go after the true culprits of the 'moral decline in our society' … if they must go after them at all. Ron Paul makes a very valid point: contraception is not the root of the problem. Society's attitudes towards pornography, prostitution, drugs and the like … not contraception … are at the heart of moral decay in our society. Any candidate with sights beyond the Republican Primary would be wise to make the latter distinction early on, and make it forcefully. ]

Rick Santorum's statements regarding contraception have said --during the course of this current campaign-- that while he personally does not believe in contraception an individual has the right, under our constitution, to make that decision for herself [“right to choose”].  Santorum also made another profound statement in one of the earlier debates, where he stated that when he voted against some bill mandating 'right to work' in his state. He had done so not because he disagreed with the bill in principle, but he voted the "will of the people" that he represented at the time. It was very refreshing to hear a politician recognize and affirm this: "the will of the people" ... so many elected officials seem to forget this when they go to Washington. These two statement by Rick Santorum were among the main reasons --along with his other economic ideas (e.g., his plans to return manufacturing jobs from overseas back to America)--  I began to consider Rick Santorum as a viable candidate for President of the United States. Santorum’s statements, coupled with his Senate voting record, illustrated to me that he clearly understands the true nature of our Representative Democracy: "a government of the people, by the people and for the people." While Rick Santorum is obviously a man of devout faith, it seemed to me he clearly understood the difference between holding a personal (moral) conviction and the infliction of those convictions upon others. The ability to make this sort of distinction is critical for the success of any elected politician in effectively serving his constituents … be they a congressional district, a home state or the entire United States of America.

A few weeks back, Rick Santorum seemed to emerge as the candidate that not only could beat Obama, but THE candidate that would also be best for the country serving as President of the United States.  Voters in the Republican Primary no longer felt compelled to settle for the candidate being pushed by establishment politicians and the media (conservative and liberal alike) as "the only viable candidate" who would be able to secure victory against the incumbent President Obama. Republican voters just aren't happy with a 'middle-of-the-road' Romney. With Santorum's 3-state sweep, Republican voters embraced a new-found realization: they had another viable choice for the Republican nominee. As the latter realization quickly spread, Rick Santorum finally began to energize what had previously been an overwhelmingly unenthusiastic Republican party. Hopefully, this Santorum-energy will continue as voters head to the polls in the upcoming election primaries of “Super Tuesday” and the like, because regardless of who will be our Republican Presidential cadidate the Republican Party will need an energized party in order to bring voters to the polls in November or there will be no defeating the incumbent President Barak Obama.

[ Alright ... I'm exhausted.  I may have to take March off too?  I've said my political piece.  Going back to focusing on images once again.  The current state of our country and the problems facing our nation has inspired me to attempt a read "The Federalist Papers" in their entirety ... We shall see how far I get.  Peace, Love and Get to the Polls to VOTE! ]


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