The Ballot I Will Cast in the GOP Primary

Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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160 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    I’m a Dem, and voting for Obama. So I’d not vote for anyone in this bozo party. That said, putting on Repub shoes for a moment, your case against Huntsman is the weakest, and comes across as feigned. I think you outta vote for him.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Michael says:

      In what way is it feigned… and why should I vote for Huntsman?Report

      • Michael in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Feigned in that your stated reason is failure to communicate a message. That’s mainly because he has received much less attention, not because he lacks a message. It’s nothing grand, I grant, certainly nothing that sets him apart from standard republicans, but if it’s a republican you want, it’s what you’ll be getting and that would come across perfectly clear in the general election, i.e., there’d be no communication problem. Why should you vote for him? You shouldn’t. You should vote Obama. But if you do unusual on voting Huntsman, I’m pretty sure you’ll get an effective republican whose basically conservative. I guess I’d ask, besides the aforementioned ‘communication problem,’ why NOT vote for him (discounting strategic reasons)?Report

    • I agree that your dismissal of Huntsman seems perfunctory.  Given your very effective indictment of the current GOP primary electorate, it hardly seems fair to write Huntsman off for failing to appeal to it.  To my mind, that’s more of a reason to vote for him.

      Huntsman has executive experience, foreign policy experience, and actually seems sane.  He’s willing to acknowledge that gay people are immutably so, and that they deserve some kind of legal protection.  (Not even Obama’s “evolving” views on the issue encompass full equality, so I’m willing to consider Huntsman even though he’s not exactly where I’d want him to be on the matter.)  While I lament his joining the lunatics on stage in saying he’d walk away from a budget deal that included any increased tax revenues at all, I’m also willing to forgive a certain degree of pandering that has to happen in order to win.  I don’t think he really means it, and believe he would be willing to work with Democrats far more than just about anyone else sharing the stage with him.

      The rest of them?  Wholly unfit, and almost uniformly terrifying to consider as President.  But Huntsman deserves your vote.Report

      • I understand this sentiment, Russell.  But my feeling about Huntsman is what I said above.  Or, to flesh it out more… I feel like I have now seen Hunstman in.. what, 5 debates?  I cannot begin to tell you what his vision for the country is, or what he would offer.  ANd in all fairness to me, I don’t think I’m alone here.  There’s a reason he is the one guy who’s on that stage that never gets on anybody’s radar screen.

        Now, could I do me some research and mine the internet to find out what his vision is, and what his presidential style might be?  Sure.  But the fact that I have to do that after watching him repeatedly trying to pitch himself suggests to me that he is not presidential material.  As I said in the OP, unlike the others he hasn’t really done anything to make me decide he is a nutjob; but if that’s the bar we’re setting for president than I think we’re doing it wrong.

        Does that make more sense?Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          In fact, your example of gay rights is a perfect example. For me this is a cornerstone issue, and one that I give more weight to than most others. What does it say about Huntsman that after watching him pitch himself to me all Fall I need to make a post that you disagree with and respond to realize this is his stance?Report

          • Koz in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            “For me this is a cornerstone issue, and one that I give more weight to than most others.”

            This is the sort of thing that sounds good as a soundbite but from a broad perspective really makes no sense. It’s like saying my cornerstone issue is ethanol, or fisheries or something.

            My frustration is, it’s the kind of kind of myopia that creates the factionalism we see in the GOP primaries. If we’re going to spend the primary campaign chasing down pet issues, chances are they won’t be yours.

            Here’s a question. Let’s Sen BHO was running as a candidate in the GOP primary for the right to run against President Mitt Romney, where would he fit? (Modify as necessary so it makes sense for you.)Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to Koz says:

              I think you are misreading what I said as It’s All I Care About, as if it were a litmus test.  That I weigh certain things more heavily that others is pretty universal, isn’t it?Report

              • Koz in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I guess “cornerstone” is kind of vague. But whether it’s a big cornerstone or a little cornerstone I don’t it helps much.

                I think Romney, Santorum and Huntsman are very plausible Presidents and compare favorably to Sen Obama.Report

              • Kim in reply to Koz says:

                You’re willing to vote for a thief who steals money from ghetto schoolkids?

                *Disclaimer: one of those schoolkids tried to knife a very good friend of mine. Fine time to be working an amusement park, eh?*

                I would vote KUCINICH over Santorum, and I loathe Kucinich. I think Kucinich would completely wreck everything. But… after Kucinich, I think we could rebuild! (because the democrats aren’t that crazy… really1)Report

            • Sam in reply to Koz says:

              Describing gay rights as a pet issue is remarkably dismissive.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Sam says:

                I understand neither what you are saying nor what interpretation you are applying to me. Explain?Report

              • Koz in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I suspect you and I are on different sides on the substance of gay rights. But notwithstanding that, the fixation on gay issues comes from a reactionary mindset, which is a little disappointing because frankly you’re pretty much the least reactionary-minded person here.

                But whether it comes from gay issues or not, the reactionary mindset is killing us. In fact, for the most part it’s what you’re criticizing the Republicans for imo.

                The important thing is, not everybody is caught in the reactionary mindset. Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and most of the GOP establishment haven’t.

                I think Romney, Santorum, and Huntsman are good candidates, and Romney is an astoundingly great one. There’s none of this “hold your nose” and vote for the lesser evil thing for me. For me, Willard is the best candidate since Phil Gramm at least. Maybe you didn’t like him either but if nothing else I think you can appreciate the fact that it was four cycles ago.

                The bitterness and antagonism between Team Red and Team Blue is really high, creating distortions and distractions in an environment where we really need careful execution. And if you get away from gay rights and the other myopias, Mitt Romney and the institutional GOP are executing. Executing way better than we deserve in fact.

                Like here:

                “That their best hope for being politically relevant while governing, as opposed to be commercially relevant on FOX, talk radio and the NYT best seller list, is to once again try their hand at actual governance. That they should craft a vision for the future that is more than “We’re don’t like Obama.” That they should spend more time looking for common ground among those that consider themselves to be conservative, and less time trying to demonize everyone that disagrees with them about every tiny little detail.”

                There’s just no possible way this makes any sense at all, except for being fixated on the atmospherics of the GOP Presidential primaries at the expense of everything else that’s happened in the political-cultural arena since President Obama was inaugurated.

                Team Blue has created a world where they believe can run on autopilot and close their ears to everybody else. Team Red is trying by all plausible means to make sure Team Blue gets the memo, There Is No More Money. That’s the real dividing line. Herman Cain is just a distraction.Report

              • Sam in reply to Koz says:


                I’d like a further definition of “reactionary mindset.” I find it baffling to be so dismissive of another person’s legal rights though.Report

              • Koz in reply to Sam says:

                Sure. We all have issues or concerns that are relatively unique to us. I am going to care about my issues more than somebody else will. The reactionary mindset is being fixated with something that affects me or for some reason I care about to the point where if affects my ability to shift gears to a broader context or process new information.

                (Btw, the idea of “legal rights” doesn’t change much. Eg I, as proprietor of ABC Oil Company, am going to be greatly involved with issues concerning my legal right to drill for oil in federal lands in Colorado.)

                With that in mind let me make a couple more things explicit in the context of the OP and my prior comment. The GOP is plainly not just not failing at governance, for now they are the only ones interested in it. Starting with the 2010 lame duck tax extensions, through the CR’s and the debt limit drama, the Republicans have executed a consistent line: we don’t agree to tax increases but the Demos can cut whatever part of the budget they want.

                That’s a very powerful statement imo, and wipes away the Demo talking points about GOP intransigence or obstructionism. Taken appropriately, that gives the Demos all sorts of flexibility to do all sorts of things, many of which they have claimed to want to do or we have reason to believe they want to do. Sometimes Demo partisans used to pretend that it was the GOP who insisted we fund ag subsidies or corporate welfare or the Drug War. You don’t hear that so much any more because it’s plainly not true (though Erik has been caught in that trap once or twice).

                Again, it’s a shame Tod doesn’t see this or give the GOP credit for it because for the most part he’s least reactionary-minded regular here. I’m sure he would see it if the political culture wasn’t distracted by gay rights or Gardasil or Herman Cain settlements. Ie, the reactionary mindset.

                Btw, I prob won’t be back for a few days. Merry Christmas everybody.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Sam says:

                Have a Merry Christmas, Koz!Report

              • David in reply to Koz says:

                Team Red needs to get a clue and realize that the problem is not “there is no more money” but “the top tiny percent are hoarding all the monetary resources.”

                Let’s be real here. If a bunch of rich assholes hadn’t started wars over the last decade, we’d have enoug money not even to question taking care of the poor and we probably wouldn’t have had a nasty economic collapse.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to David says:

                Team Red needs to get a clue and realize that the problem is not “there is no more money” but “the top tiny percent are hoarding all the monetary resources.”

                These two notions are entirely compatible: Starve the Beast has been one of the stated GOP strategies for nearly three decades, with the explicit claim that “Deficits don’t matter”. Paul Ryan went on the record in the early 2000’s that the unfunded Bush Tax Cuts should have taken more out of the deficit; and less than ten years later he heralded GOP revival by drafting a plan for “fixing” the deficit which included even more high-income tax cuts. An entire cultural movement has risen around the mantra that low-income Americans should pay more in taxes or quit their whining.

                This has been the explicit GOP agenda over multiple successful national elections and it seems like the last people to still be clueless about it are on Team Blue. Republicans want upwards redistribution of wealth, they are willing to compromise by settling for the current tax-code and difficult spending cuts (pentagon, subsidies, etc.) … why is this not good enough for Democrats?Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to David says:

                Even this grizzled old Liberal admits the Obeast could use some starving.  Deficits are never problems for the folks in charge, be they Dems or Repubs:  take the labels off these swine and I cannot tell the difference.   Huey Long had a little speech he’d often give:
                “The Democratic Party and the Republican Party were just like the old patent medicine drummer that used to come around our country. He had two bottles of medicine. He’d play a banjo and he’d sell two bottles of medicine.

                One of those bottles of medicine was called High Popalorum and another one of those bottles of medicine was called Low Popahirum.

                Finally somebody around there said is there any difference in these bottles of medicines? ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘considerable. They’re both good but they’re different,’ he said.

                ‘That High Popalorum is made from the bark off the tree that we take from the top down. And that Low Popahirum is made from the bark that we take from the root up.’

                And the only difference that I have found between the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership was that one of ’em was skinning you from the ankle up and the other from the ear down.

                This skinning business is what chiefly concerns ordinary people and I am no fan of the cheap High Popalorum populism of Skin the Rich.   It is nonsense.   Older people who’ve saved and invested their earnings are most vulnerable to capital gains taxes, not the Weasels of Wall Street we love to hate in the Liberal Camp.

                Taxation has more statutes on the books than criminal laws.  If the Democrats had any sense and they manifestly lack any semblance thereof, they’d be talking about how free enterprise could be harnessed to the benefit of the poor.   They really do want to work, you know, the poor.   Government is not the answer.   It is the means by which we phrase the questions the economy must answer.   The Democrats lack the common sense God gave a chipmunk:  if they were serious about tax reform, they’d get with those Deficit Hawks and find some common cause with them:  they don’t want the budget balanced on the backs of the poor, they just want some semblance of fiscal sanity applied to a government which will not live within its means.   This they will never do, preferring to take rhetorical beatings on the subject.

                And we Democrats wonder how the Tea Party got all those yawping idiots elected.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to David says:

                Brother Trizz, we’re still so ’00s.  We gotta update for 2012.  Help out here.  People are still bleating upon Iraq, but we just left.  Some people are still bleating on Reagan, Vietnam, civil rights, Jim Crow.

                The Civil War, the Inquisition.

                I’m pretty good at history, but the trick is to not fall headlong into the similarities, but to recognize the differences.  History doesn’t repeat itself, it only rhymes.  Otherwise even a couplet wouldn’t need a second line.



              • Koz in reply to David says:

                “Team Red needs to get a clue and realize that the problem is not “there is no more money” but “the top tiny percent are hoarding all the monetary resources.”

                Let’s be real here. If a bunch of rich assholes hadn’t started wars over the last decade, we’d have enoug money not even to question taking care of the poor and we probably wouldn’t have had a nasty economic collapse.”

                This is a great response. First of all, you’re wrong on No More Money. This is a good link (though not the only one by any means)


                But more than that, you’ve got to come to grips with the reality that for the most part, none of what you think makes any difference even if it were true. If the top tiny percent of something are hoarding all the monetary resources, the libiots certainly aren’t going to take them away.

                And there’s no point in wondering what we could fund if the rich assholes didn’t start wars. No matter who we blame for Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya, we did spend that money and it’s gone.

                Instead, we have the opportunity for real moral choice. Ie, that you can say, “I, as lib, who have caused so much destruction in American economy (and the others too for that matter), can put away the bitterness and misanthropy and act on the basis of what’s right and what’s plausible instead of indulging mindless hatreds.Report

              • Sam in reply to Sam says:

                That was intended to be a reply to Koz’s seemingly dismissive attitude of gay rights as a “pet issue.” He wrote:

                If we’re going to spend the primary campaign chasing down pet issues, chances are they won’t be yours.

                Why it posted here and not where I wanted to is unknown.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Sam says:

                Ah, got it.  I thought it was to either me or Russel, and I couldn’t figure it out.  That makes more sense.

                My bad.Report

              • Sam in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                It didn’t post where I thought it would. No worries. (Although I remain baffled how people so deeply concerned with liberty can be so dismissive when the liberty isn’t their own.)Report

              • Koz in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Or, here’s another perspective that may (or may not help). For the last week or so, the political establishment has been fixated on a 2% partial payroll tax holiday which in the deal that was agreed to between both houses of Congress will last two months.

                Now this argument was particularly narrow but I think it’s useful to get a perspective on the choices the political establishment sees as being available.

                Ie, whether the holiday is for two months or a year or bigger or whatever the Republicans wanted, the whole frame of reference was pretty small beer. One choice might be marginally better than another but nothing is planting the seeds of hope.

                Not everything is that narrow but it’s useful to think about what range of policies the political establishment can do. Not what they should do, but what they can do. The border between what can be done and what can’t be done is hazy in places but the upshot is, for any substantial change to our current autopilot, it will take a great deal of energy to make that a plausible choice in our current political-cultural environment.Report

              • Koz in reply to Sam says:

                Fwiw, I took both Sam’s and Tod’s earlier comments as replies to me.

                In any case, as things stand now gay rights is a pet issue. It’s hard for me to see how anybody looks at the US in the year of Our Lord 2011 and sees anything else.

                Not that it’s any consolation, but it’s mildly amusing that for the most part you expect the most reactionary gay rights advocates are always an odd subset of straights. At the League this is Jaybird and Mark Boggs.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

                Koz, try to see it more as fundamental outrage at puritan sheet-sniffers.Report

              • mark boggs in reply to Jaybird says:

                I take it as a compliment.Report

              • North in reply to Koz says:

                Odd way of seeing things, I’d be surprised if Jaybird or Mark were more pro-gay rights than Russel, Jason K or myself.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to North says:

                Maybe he thinks your just going through a phase.Report

              • North in reply to North says:

                Well it is Koz afterall so it’s entirely possible.Report

              • Koz in reply to North says:

                “I’d be surprised if Jaybird or Mark were more pro-gay rights than Russel, Jason K or myself.”

                Actually yes, in kind of a weird way. It’s not so much that Russell, Jason, or North are less pro-gay, than Jaybird or Mark (Boggs) but they definitely have less of a reactionary mindset relative to gay issues in the public sphere, ie, in Mark’s case, when he asks a reasonably typical question the inability to understand the response. Or in Jaybird’s case, the inability to switch gears to other things once he gets fixated on Sheet-sniffing or Ed Meese or whatever.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to North says:

                The fixation is not mine.

                I think that folks ought to be left to their own devices when it comes to such things (absent evidence of harm).

                It’s when you people start explaining that, no, this *IS* your business and you *DO* have the right to tell those people how to live that I start getting riled up.

                I’ll explain to you what I sometimes have to explain to your mirror images on the left:

                Your moral indignation does not translate to jurisdiction.Report

              • Koz in reply to North says:

                “Your moral indignation does not translate to jurisdiction.”

                That’s very questionable on its own terms. Jurisdiction doesn’t mean what you think it means. But the “moral indignation” thing is almost completely the product of your imagination. I can’t think of any prominent political-cultural figure who’s stance toward homosexuality is moral indignation. Not even Santorum.

                This is what I mean by fixation and shifting gears. Ie, this business of moral indignation or whatever is one of the things keeping you from being able to recognize and credit the Republicans for what they really have done for fiscal policy over the last year and before that.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to North says:

                credit the Republicans for what they really have done for fiscal policy over the last year and before that.

                Oh YEAH! I forgot that you’re from Balloon Juice.

                My bad.Report

              • Koz in reply to North says:


                Over the last year or so we’ve had the “Catfood Commission, ” the lame duck, the CRs, the debt limit, the Ryan Plan, and hundred other smaller chunks. You were too busy, either sheet-sniffing or holding watch against sheet-sniffing, to notice.Report

              • Sam in reply to North says:


                Respectfully, you’re either intentionally trolling or fooling yourself if you think Santorum’s objection to homosexuality is anything more substantive than his own moral indignation to its very occurrence in the world. The man is hellbent (perhaps because of his ludicrously applied Catholic religion, which simultaneously allows him to actively oppose homosexuality in all its forms and cheerlead torture in all its forms, despite the church’s clear objection to both) on refusing to let gay people enjoy the same legal recognition that straight people take for granted. How can you possibly claim with a straight face that Santorum’s opposition to homosexuality (or, for that matter, any opposition to homosexuality at all) is anything more than an individual’s moral heebie-jeebies run amok?Report

              • Koz in reply to North says:

                Objection != indignationReport

        • I certainly understand what you’re saying.  I guess it kind of depends on what your political priorities are.

          If you’re a conservative voter, and it really matters to see a conservative in the White House to enact conservative policy, then you should still vote for Huntsman.  Even if he’s failed to articulate a clear vision for the country, you can be reasonable certain that he’ll support an agenda in line with yours.

          I’m much more liberal than he is, so I don’t have a particular motivation in any case.  I don’t have a dog in this hunt.  However, I’d still be inclined to cast a vote for Huntsman on the basis of wanting a two-party system wherein both parties are led by reasonable, competent people who are willing to work with each other for the betterment of the country.  To that end, there’s also an argument to be made in voting for Huntsman.

          That said, I’m all too happy to see the most idiotic asshat win, because I’m mostly a liberal and I’d be content with an Obama win next year.Report

          • I don’t think of myself as a conservative voter, but rather one that looks of competence.  And this coming from you, a man whose opinion  I have come to respect, I will go take a more active second look at Huntsman.Report

            • That’s an awfully gracious thing to say.  Thanks.

              While I’m no true-blue conservative by any stretch, I still want conservative ideas expressed well by elected leaders who care about doing their jobs competently.  If Huntsman were elected, I know he would enact lots of changes that I would probably find disagreeable.  But I’d still have a President I respected, and I believe he would do right by his office and the country.

              Again, I’m much more liberal than he is, so in the general I’m almost certainly going to vote for Obama, unless my state looks very safe, in which case I might vote for Johnson.  But Huntsman is the only Republican who I’d consider voting for against Obama.Report

              • Kim in reply to Russell Saunders says:


                I’d consider switching parties to vote for Huntsman in the primary. (switch back whenever something interesting is happening, of course…).

                I think having sane conservatives is a Very Good Thing.Report

          •  I don’t have a dog in this hunt

            You’ve just been waiting to say that haven’t you?Report

        • Erik Kain in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          Huntsman has penned some very detailed policy ideas on foreign policy, financial reform, etc. He’s hardly vague.Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to Erik Kain says:

            Then my question to you… or maybe to Hunstman… or maybe to me, come to think of it… is why is it that he doesn’t seem to be able to communicate that to me in a way that sticks?

            Maybe it is just me.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              It’s not just you. I went out to dinner with a good friend in the military around the time of the first Republican debate. He asked about “the one guy… you know… the guy…” and I said “Huntsman?” and he said “YEAH!!! HIM!!!”

              I’m pretty sure that my good friend (who keeps up with this stuff!) couldn’t tell you Huntsman’s name today if you offered him a beer.Report

              • Erik Kain in reply to Jaybird says:

                He needed to pander more to the base.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Erik Kain says:

                Erik, why vote for a politician who’s no good at it?  We elected Bill Clinton twice [and would again] because he’s so good at it.

                In 1992 Paul Tsongas called Bill Clinton the “Pander Bear.”  I just googled and found this.

                Worth a quick look.  “Tool of Wall Street.”  Plus ca change.

                Tsongas was right about the man, of course.  So what?  Bill laughed it off.  And so did we.  It wasn’t a handicap, it was a political virtue.  My favorite quote from North Dallas Forty is that seeing through the game isn’t the same thing as winning the game.

                Bill Clinton winked at us that it was all bullshit, and we winked back. It was a rare moment of clarity, and honesty.



            • Nob Akimoto in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              I think the problem with Huntsman is he’s just not very good at political theater. There are many, many times in the debates he could have spoken up and injected his own personal stance on an issue, whether it’s gay rights or some other issue and distinguished himself.

              He simply hasn’t, nor has he had the ability to do so.

              While he’s consistently been conservative, particularly in fiscal issues (I find his tax policy to be absurdly regressive, for example), he’s just not very good at articulating his position in a way that’s communicable to the public, and I find that he’s also very poor at speaking out when he needs to in the moment.

              His staff however, is very good at zinger “gotcha” ads against Romney.Report

            • Kolohe in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              Someone on the internet (Yglesias?) has been saying from the get go that Huntsman has been sandbagging a bit this whole time and is really in it for 2016.

              I think the core problem Huntsman has is that Romney had dibs on both main factions of his natural fundraising base (and organizing base), and so simply doesn’t have the resources to create a real forceful media and message presence. (this would be either be solved or moot in ’16)Report

  2. Stillwater says:

    And for the first time ever in my life, I find myself rooting for absolutely no one to win the GOP primary.

    Not me. I’m still rooting for Perry.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

      What about Perry appeals to you, Still?Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I like the thought of putting a TP heartthrob whackjob front and center in a US Presidential General Election to – hopefully! – expose the current TPGOP lunacy for what it is (not that the primary isn’t doing a good enough job of this, a’course). I think the shock-and-awe of watching such an epic and colossal implosion might make conservatives generally become interested in politics and governing again.Report

  3. Jonathan says:

    I know I’ll feel like an idiot after I get an anwer, but, remind me, which one is this:

    “• Guy who thinks we need to be a Christians-Come-First Nation, and who is seriously pitching that the major industry in his home state have it’s tax bill totally subsidized by all other industries”Report

  4. Burt Likko says:

    A point of clarification:

    I want to note here that the GOP is actually full of quality potential candidates for the office of President of the United States. And each of those people, having looked at the current base of their party, has wisely decided to opt out this time around as they have correctly deduced they had no shot of winning this primary.

    To whom do you refer? Bobby Jindal? Chris Christie? Haley Barbour? Mark Rubio? Nikki Haley? Sarah Palin?Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Burt, I would submit that a serious Prez candidate has to be someone that has a track record of competence (so not Palin) and cross over appeal (so not Palin).

      So, off the top of my head, Christie, Hatch, Jindal, al come to mind.  In my own state I can think of Chris Dudley, Gordon Smith, Ron Saxton and Greg Warren.  I suspect each state has a list as long or longer.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Urm… not California. The last Republicans who held any high office here were Arnold Schwarzenegger and before him, John Seymour. You’d think in a state that had approximatley one-tenth of the total national population, we’d be able to do better than that. But if you thought that, you’d be wrong.

        Of the Republicans named so far in this thread, I do like Christie. Aside from him, though, I have, um, high hopes for Nikki Haley.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Really?  In the whole state?  That strikes me as being very, very sad.

          Out of curiosity, could you round up four Dems that might make passable competent/cross appeal candidates?Report

          • Burt Likko in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            Erg. That’s tough, too. Here’s the best I can do on short notice:

            Brian Schweitzer, because he’s an oilman and all manly and tough. Michael Bennet, for signing on to Pay-As-You-Go, although he was not born in the United States and so might not be eligible to serve as President. Kathleen Sibelius, at least the version of her when she was Governor of Kansas and before she was Obama’s HHS Secretary (I still think she’d have been a better pick for VP than Biden). Now, I’m not so sure. And… um… Joe Manchin, for shooting the cap-and-trade bill in his campaign commercial.

            Hillary Clinton might actually command the respect of some Republicans too based on her friendliness to the military and an unusual but weirdly successful tenure as Secretary of State.Report

            • scott the mediocre in reply to Burt Likko says:

              Jon Tester, all farmery and also tough (but organic farmery, so probably no-go).

              Mark Warner (though he doesn’t want the job).  Tim Kaine. 

              John Hickenlooper.  Bill Richardson.  John Lynch.Report

            • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Burt Likko says:

              I hate to break this to you, but within three months of entering the race, all those people would be considered socialists by 50% of the GOP electorate. After all, before he became POTUS, Obama was the post-partisan candidate looking forward and Hillary Clinton was the person who coined the phrase, ‘vast right-wing conspiracy.’ I have no doubt that if Clinton had become POTUS, she’s be public enemy number one and you’d have conservative’s claiming “only if the cordial and considerate Obama had won instead of Hillary, we’d be in a much better place.”Report

        • Koz in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Only if you restrict to statewide office. If you think about who could do the job (ie, ignore path dependencies), there are a number of GOP reps who could do okay. Kevin McCarthy and Tom Campbell come to mind.Report

  5. Tom Van Dyke says:

    Well, I’ll give you points for even-handedness on this one, Tod.Report

  6. Jaybird says:

    Obama is weak this election. Not “terribly weak” or anything overstated… but I’m thinking about 2008 and how strong he seemed at the election and, counting his coattails with regards to the House and Senate, how inevitable his re-election in 2012 seemed.

    So the fact that a contest between him and “Generic Republican” is a coin-flip is surprising.

    The fact that the Republicans couldn’t put anybody up against Obama is a serious indicator of a very, very deep problem.Report

  7. Comrade Dread says:

    I think I would write-in: “The corpse of Teddy Roosevelt”, if I were still a registered Republican.Report

  8. I’m a Roemer fan. Might vote for him for the whole thing.Report

    • dexter in reply to Elias Isquith says:

      Roemer strikes me as entirely too sane for a republican this year.  He was not a bad governor either.   Jindal on the other hand has a whole lot of tea bagger type baggage, plus he is bad enough seer to jump in for Perry before Perry came across as a dumber version of baby Bush.Report

  9. trizzlor says:

    Great post Tod. But I feel like it could have been written about any GOP primary from the last three decades (just a reminder of some also-rans: Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, Don Rumsfeld, David Duke, Steve Forbes, Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer). It seems like every GOP primary they’re supposed to be kicked to the curb and yet the same bunch of people emerge from their lairs to stump for the same bunch of issues. I too would love to see a GOP revolution, but maybe it’s just the same as it ever was.Report

    • Michelle in reply to trizzlor says:

      Gotta agree with you on this one. I remember thinking in 2008 that the Democrats had Obama, Clinton, and Edwards (before the whole cheating on his cancer-ridden wife and getting his mistress pregnant thing came to light) and who do the Republicans have: the old guy who seemed to get increasingly senile with each passing day, the shape shifter, and a bunch of thumpers. Granted I found Huckabee and Paul charming, but not quite presidential timber. I still can’t quite believe Bush got the nod in 2000. He proved to be every bit as stupid as he came across in the primaries.  Gaah!

      I also have to say that I can’t think of too many Democrats I really want to vote for these days.Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Michelle says:

        One of the difficulties of the partisan-heavy political battleground is that you either have to be principled and lantern jawed and good at zinging people and smart (ie, pretty rare), or you have to be appealing to the base.

        Obama won because he hadn’t been in politics long enough to have to make sausage.  It was, fundamentally, a weak call on the part of the Democrats to pick him… but the Democrats haven’t really fielded a list of credible contenders for a while, except Hillary.

        Right now, there’s nobody like that on the GOP side, so you get either “appealing to the base” or “people who will pretend to be appealing to the base”.Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Michelle says:

        See, this is actually weird. Because I can think of a few Democrat’s off the top of my head who I’ll be happy to vote for in 2016 in the primaries. Schweitzer from Montana, Gillibrand from New York, Brown from Ohio, or Elizabeth Warren. Heck, even O’Malley or Patrick.Report

  10. Jake Badlands says:

    So, Obama? Does it follow logically that, if the GOP field sucks (and I agree it does), that Obama must be good?

    Or are you being intellectually dishonest in even posting this analysis, i.e. are you an Obama man anyway, and to pretend that you might have picked a Republican is just a silly exercise?

    You know there are other options out there. And if you’re going to endorse Obama, whom I might describe in your style as the “guy from Chicago presiding over a record-terrible economy who thinks he’s the 4th or 5th best pres ever,” after the (justifiably) scathing hits on the GOP field, I’d love to know why.


    • Jaybird in reply to Jake Badlands says:

      Most folks out there see a 3rd Party as “throwing their vote away” rather than “that thing that I wish everybody would do and so I’m doing it” kinda thing.

      “Disappointingly mediocre” is not the worst kind of president you could have. Yes, I know, he thinks he’s number four after… Jesus. I don’t even want to know who he thinks #1, #2, and #3 are. (I’m sure that William Henry Harrison isn’t on the list.)

      I’ll grant that Obama is a “peeing in the kitchen sink is technically better than peeing on the living room carpet” kinda president. If Republicans aren’t fielding any “peeing in someplace with a drain” candidates, you can’t really fault folks for not talking about Obama.

      Obama, at least, is peeing in the kitchen sink.Report

      • dexter in reply to Jaybird says:

        Jaybird, what could have President Obama done to stimulate the economy other than getting rid of the EPA and killing all the unions?  The reasons the country is in such a bind are the unfunded wars and all the factories moving to China.  America would not have near as many problems if we had not moved nine million factory jobs to China and muffed the Iraqi war.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to dexter says:

          You probably think that the President has more power over the economy than I do. I’m a fan of the whole “stay out of the way” kinda thing that Clinton had going on. Bush did what he could to protract the decline for as long as he possibly could (to make a “U” shaped recession rather than a “V” shaped recession).

          I’m one of those who thinks that a “V” would have been over by now, had we allowed it to happen around 2001ish/2002ish when it wanted to happen.

          I digress. Had Obama done less to “stimulate” the economy than he had done, we could have wrung out the rot faster. As it stands, there’s a lot of stuff that needs to still happen. We’re going to be going down for a while (no matter which party is in office). It’s like taking off a band-aid. Take it off fast or take it off slow.

          We’ve been taking it off as slowly as possible… and we’re still wondering why things aren’t back to normal yet.Report

          • dexter in reply to Jaybird says:

            I don’t think the President has a huge effect on the economy, but the difference between your thinking and mine is that I don’t believe the economy is going to get back to where it was.  America does not make that many things any more.  All this talk about Christmas sales only makes our debt to China greater.  The high paying blue collar jobs are gone and are not coming back.  Without a middle class the tax base is zapped.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to dexter says:

              I’m of the opinion that it *COULD*, assuming a handful of advancements similar in scope to those of the personal computer/cellphone/internet becoming available for pretty much everybody.

              When the personal computer (remember that term) hit the price point of $999, everything (as they say) changed. Everybody needed one *AND* they all needed it hooked up to the internet. This meant that there was a need for a lot of people who knew how to put computers together, how to support them, how to hook them up to the internet, and how to support *THAT*. And, of course, at the same time everybody needed a cell phone.

              At this point in time, nobody knew how to do much of anything with computers… so corporations had to hire people and then train them and then pay them enough to keep them from jumping ship to their competitors.

              We’re well past that now. We now know how to train people who barely speak English to support all kinds of computer stuff. Dollar for dollar, they’re almost as good as Americans.

              Anyway, I think we’re at the point where we need more technological innovation to get us to another boomlet rather than protectionism against jobs going overseas and/or wars.Report

              • Nob Akimoto in reply to Jaybird says:

                Hard to get more technological innovations when R&D budgets are being slashed and research centers are being gutted, while foreign talent is deciding it’d rather work abroad…no?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

                Dude, don’t look at me to disagree with that. I think that R&D pays off exponentially even when it fails so long as R&D is maintained.

                When emphasis is turned to “legacy products”, one should not be surprised to see support move overseas as part of a race to the bottom.

                Of course, if I knew what the “next big thing” was going to be, I’d be jumping on board that rather than still supporting application development in a computer lab.Report

              • dexter in reply to Jaybird says:

                I agree one hundred percent with you on r and d, but this time the jobs will be overseas.  As far as I am a protectionist, I will keep losing money as long as Corp. Inc. can hire anybody else cheaper than they can get me.  The corps will keep the factories in foreign countries  as long as those countries allow them to pollute more than here.  If your sole purpose for existence is the bottom line then you will capture the money in any way possible.  Or as we say in Louisiana, “We don’t need no stinkin blowout preventers.”Report

      • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        What is this ” he thinks he 3rd or 4th best prez evar” thing?Report

    • I don’t think that Obama is a perfect president, no – for many of the same reasons that Erik has laid out.  I do reject the notion that he is a bad president.

      I’m not sure how this makes me intellectually dishonest.  As I said in the OP, my last two gov votes have gone R, and as I’ve also noted each GOP primary – up to now – has had multiple people I felt qualified to be President.  Reagan and Bush I were obviously well qualified, and what’s more were good presidents in my opinion.  Back in ’00 I thought Bush, McCain, Hatch, Dole, and Forbes were all more than qualified to be the President.  In ’08 I thought I might vote for McCain early on in the general (though his implosion made me rethink this).  Otherwise, though, the primary featured both Thompson.Report

      • Michelle in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I take it that when you talk about Bush, you mean the elder and not the younger? The younger was never qualified for much of anything besides snorting cocaine and bankrupting oil companies. Dumb like rock–hardly qualified to be president, let alone pronounce the word “nuclear.”Report

    • Does it follow logically that, if the GOP field sucks (and I agree it does), that Obama must be good?

      No, but it might logically follow that Obama is less bad.Report

  11. b-psycho says:

    The closest thing to a reasonable candidate they had is being shoved out of the party entirely. For obvious reason.



  12. Liberty60 says:

    How could a party of reasonable, principled Burkean conservatives give rise to a field of such rabid Khmer RougeState candidates?

    Tis indeed a mystery.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Liberty60 says:

      The same way that a party of Enlightened Liberals would elect a President that (insert joke here).Report

      • Liberty60 in reply to Jaybird says:

        …provided health care for all?

        …established higher standards for mercury emissions into the environment?

        …established an agency to protect consumers from financial predation?

        …nominated two excellent Supreme Court justices?

        ..ended DADT?

        Sorry your comparison doesn’t wash.

        Obama has disappointed liberals plenty, but for the most part he represents the basic premises of contemporary liberalism. His policies are pretty much in line with something Kennedy or LBJ would have pursued. For better or worse!

        Contemporary conservatism has become nearly the polar opposite of its namesake.


        • Jaybird in reply to Liberty60 says:

          You must be delighted with the state of the United States of America in 2011.

          We’ve provided health care for all! We’ve established an agency to protect citizens from financial predation! We’ve nominated as many Supreme Court justices as Der Chimpler!

          We’ve established higher standards for mercury emissions into the environment!!!!

          I feel like I’ve been hugged just thinking about it.Report

          • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

            What about better standards for mercury emissions is a problem? That question is not about Afghanistan or assassinations or anything else BTW.Report

            • Katherine in reply to greginak says:

              I think his point is not that it’s a problem (though given that it’s Jaybird you never know) but that it’s very small potatoes given the problems the country faces, and continuing highly problematic actions of the government (indefinite detention muttermuttermutter).Report

              • Nob Akimoto in reply to Katherine says:

                How many people are indefinitely detained at the moment?
                How many people suffer health effects from the non-regulation of mercury emissions?

                From a purely utilitarian perspective (not endorsing, just stating) I’d imagine the latter is in fact, a much bigger deal.Report

              • greginak in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

                I don’t have a problem with that argument. That, however, doesn’t mean something like the mercury emission thingee isn’t a  good thing in and of itself or that there haven’t been other good things accomplished in this admin. This, and every other admin that will ever exist, is a mix of good and bad actions.Report

              • Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

                Hell, we’re
                ALMOST ready to regulate the coal plants under the Clean Air Act!

                Pittsburgh, worst air in the country. Smelled like rotten eggs last night. PA worst emissions, Ohio second worst.


            • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

              Nothing at all, Greg! Here, let me quote Frances Beinecke:

              Whenever I talk with parents of young children about my work, they often ask me about mercury pollution. They know it can harm children and pregnant women and they know it is pervasive, but they are unsure how to keep their families safe.

              Today that job just got easier. President Obama announced new standards to reduce mercury, lead, and other dangerous pollution from power plants. Now dirty coal-fired plants that fought standards for decades will finally have to clean up their act.

              So the next time that you talk to Frances Beinecke, you can ask her about something other than mercury pollution’s effects upon your children. (Click here to send your thanks to the White House!)Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Wow that’s pretty incoherent Jay. If you don’t think the mercury standards are a good idea then say it and defend it. What does someone from the NRDC have anything to do with it? Per Katherine above if you think there are other bigger problems in the country then that is fine and i can see that. But that doesn’t in anyway address whether the mercury standards are good or bad or whether the enviro is better protected under a generic D or R admiin. That the O admin, or any and every admin, can suck on somethings and be good on other things doesn’t seem that big a stretch.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                I responded to your post with quotations about how awesome Obama is and a link where you could write him and thank him.

                What more do you want, Greg?Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                And if that was my question i would have an answer.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                And to your original question of “What about better standards for mercury emissions is a problem?” I answered “nothing at all”.Report

          • Liberty60 in reply to Jaybird says:

            The fact that the nuclear button is 3000 miles and a heavily armed cordon of Secret Service agents away from John McCain and Sarah Palin, yes,that is a huge win for humanity.

            You are welcome.Report

  13. Morzer says:

    Surely it’s worth voting for a president who designs a kit to enable you to survive his economic policies?  I present to you (via Weigel out of Kirchick) the Original, Famous, Ron Paul Survival Kit:

    Fess up, boys. How many of you have one of these jewels of private enterprise?  You know, if you didn’t get yours first time around, I am sure Glenn Beck would be happy to help out.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Morzer says:

      What is it about Ballon Juice guys?  I write an entire post about how every GOP candidate sucks – I mean, that’s literally all the entire post is about – and your point is how Glenn Beck-ish I am?  Seriously, do you guys even bother to read these posts?Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I know Morzer from …{cough} … over there, and he’s actually incredibly intelligent. Like reallyreally smart. But, he also thinks that the LoOG is comprised entirely – maybe even including me!- of glibertarians. So maybe – not to speak for him of course – that’s why he’s responding to your comments like he is.


        • Morzer in reply to Stillwater says:

          Actually, Stillwater, I very rarely comment on or read Balloon-Juice, these days.  I might also note that back in the balmy palmy days when a certain ED Kain was working his quill for the evil John Cole, I was one of the very few to engage with him, be polite and not call him a glibertarian shill.  You can ask the man himself, if you want proof of this.  I do, however, regret his decision to lop off the glorious red mohawk he once sported.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Morzer says:

            Yes, a committed maybe to all that. But I also recall discussions with you about my commenting at the LoOG. Do you remember those? You took a much less congenial line about the FPers as well as the commentariat back then.

            But I don’t want fight about that. Rather, my comment was meant to provide an account of Tod’s view that you reacted to his post as if you didn’t read it. Tod isn’t a libertarian, isn’t a Burkean conservative, isn’t a TPer. In fact, I don’t know what Tod is other than a pragmatist. So presuming he’s promoting views for purely ideological reasons would be a mistake. If, of course, that’s what you think he’s doing.Report

            • Morzer in reply to Stillwater says:

              My dear Stillwater, there is no maybe about it. You can look over the Balloon-Juice pages for the past six months or so, and you will discover that I very, very rarely go there these days.  I don’t, frankly, remember our conversations, and, in all sober truth, I don’t even remember your name.  You assure me that we conversed (or conversated as dear old TNC would say), but I fear I retain not one word of our dialogs.  As for the front-pagers and commentariat – I can’t say that I find them too, too impressive at either the LOOG or B-J.  Plenty of snark, plenty of ideological assertion without facts to back it, and a certain lack of constructive vision for the future.  These days I mostly read blogs that purport to tell me something useful or interesting – language blogs, science blogs, tech blogs, (and the admirable Lance Mannion, who deserves more of an audience, in my intermittently humble opinion).  In either case, I hope this finds you well.Report

      • Morzer in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Tod, I think you’ll find that I didn’t call you Glenn Beckish, if you reread the comment.  You know, the “fess up boys” bit might have suggested that I was laughing at the rather bedraggled libertarian hordes who are just getting around to discovering Ron Paul’s repellently unpleasant past and his distinctly evasive present.  I am sure I have my faults, but I promise you that I don’t confuse a plural number of perplexed libertarians with a singular number of lucid Tods.  Cordially, yours.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Morzer says:

          Morzer, assuming that the ad was published alongside the racist rants, how much would these coins be worth today?

          Just asking,


          • Morzer in reply to Jaybird says:

            That would depend on how much you could actually get for them, as opposed to their hypothetical resale value.  Generally speaking, people who squirrel away gold as an investment receive a very rude awakening when they  try to sell the stuff.  Essentially, it’s a buyers market, and that means you may well lose value because the traders know they have you over a barrel, since there’s not much you can do with your gold, other than looking at it lovingly, making into shiny things, or else .. well…selling the stuff.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

            I’ll do some quick math.

            According to my googling, the 1,000 dimes would be worth $2.50 each today.

            If you go from the asking price of $1,675, you’d have already made your money back on the dimes alone.

            The quarters, as far as I could tell, would be worth $4.50 each. (And you’d get 400 of those.)

            The half dollars would be worth $12 bucks each. (And you’d get 200 of those.)

            The silver dollars would be worth $28 bucks each. (And you’d get 20 of those.)

            (All values come from )

            I’m not going to bother looking up the (20) Silver Eagles, the (5) $5 Gold Eagles or the (1) $10 Gold Eagle.

            I’m just going to point out that the Survival Kit wouldn’t have been a half bad investment for an asking price of $1675.Report

            • dexter in reply to Jaybird says:

              Anybody with a lick of sense and money would have bought a lot of gold the day after the carlyle group spent a billion on a gold mine.Report

            • Morzer in reply to Jaybird says:

              But, Jaybird, as I pointed out, you are very unlikely to get anything like the ostensible value of your coins.  If you don’t believe me, feel free to invest some of your vile, loathsome, trashy paper currency in bright, shiny, honest, virtuous gold. Bounce it lovingly in your sturdy hand.  Feel the quality.  Twirl your moustache.  Wait a year. Try selling your gold to a dealer.  I suspect you’ll find two things to be true: first, you’ll be paying over the odds for the gold to start with.  Then you get the choice of having it delivered to you or stored for you – either of which choices immediately costs money/loses you value on your investment.  Second, when you do sell, you’ll be given a price for your gold that is below the odds, because your buyer is going to want his profit . Of course, there’s no guarantee that your gold will appreciate significantly in real terms in the meantime, and given the volatility of the gold market, it might well dip significantly.  You also need to factor in inflation when looking at the apparent rate of return over time.  Overall, if you do decide to go for gold, I wish you all the best, but I wouldn’t be too sanguine about your rate of return.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Morzer says:

                Morzer, in the numistic value range for the coins, they tended to be stuff like “$2.50-$20.00”

                In every case, I went with the $2.50 rather than the $20.00.

                I’m not trying to overstate much of anything but lets say that even the low end of the scale is too high by half. (According to my searches on EBay for what people are willing to pay, this is much lower than what the people bidding are actually paying, right now, for these things.)

                Would this still be a good investment, even assuming the amount in my previous comment being cut in half?

                Remember: Ron Paul was charging $1,675 for these coins!Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Morzer says:

          My bad, Morzer, and subsequent apologies.  Cheers!Report

  14. Kolohe says:

    The strength of Huntsman’s campaign is nostalgia for the Bush Senior presidency.Report

  15. Katherine says:

    I’d still vote for Ron Paul if I could vote in a GOP primary.  When everyone’s crazy, there’s little to lose from choosing a nut who’s actually got a couple good points to him.Report

  16. David says:

    Regarding your #2, the last party that did that was called the Whigs.

    Anyone heard from them lately?Report

  17. Perhaps I’m out of my element here, but there’s a rampaging bull elephant in the room no one seems to care about.  The current administration has openly violated its sworn oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States.  I’m referring, of course, to the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, who may very well have been a vile and evil human being, but was nonetheless a natural-born American citizen.  The Fourteenth Amendment extends the protections of the due process of law to all natural-born American citizens, something an African-American president (and Constitutional scholar) would do well to remember: “No State shall… deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    Anwar al-Awlaki’s speech and writing likely inspired the Fort Hood shooting and the failed attempts of the “underwear bomber” and the Times Square truck bomber.  But it is interesting to note that these three men who actually attempted or carried out verifiable violent attacks on American soil have all been arrested, remanded for trial, and afforded the due process of law to which they may or may not have been entitled (only two of the three are American citizens), whereas Anwar al-Awlaki, who has to my knowledge been accused of nothing more violent than encouraging violence, was killed by drone strike without due process of law.

    Essentially, our government killed an American citizen because of his speech and his writing.  Combined with the controversial provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act which could permit indefinite military detention of American citizens, this frankly scares the holy living shit out of me.  These are not the actions of a free society, and these are not the actions of a government I can support.Report

    • Mike in reply to Zachary Sneddon says:

      The death of al-Awlaki in military action came up as something that many people have hemmed and hawed over, but the reality of the situation was misrepresented by most of them, including those on this blog, and now by you.

      The US military, in fighting Al Qaeda, draws up a list of high value targets. These are the people giving orders and making large-scale plans. The theory is that if these people are taken out, it will weaken Al Qaeda in 3 ways:

      1 – Lieutenants may fight amongst themselves to rise to the top.
      2 – Existing plans may be incomplete or scrapped when the planner is killed.
      3 – The rise of lieutenants will mean shake-ups in the lower ranks which allows for intelligence gathering and even infiltration.

      Now, if a NON-American is put on this list, there is no further review. IF the name of an American citizen comes up,  however, there is an EXTRA level of scrutiny given to the advised listing. The panel doing the reviewing are all high security clearance, which makes sense because much of the data they will need to see doubtless compromises the identities of the intelligence operatives or the methods by which it was gathered – putting it in open court would likely mean that further gathering by that method began to be useless (see: how AQ stopped using cell phones) or even put the operatives in deep cover in danger.

      Al-Awlaki was accused of PLANNING and GREENLIGHTING attacks on Americans. In other words, of ORDERING MILITARY ATTACKS. In Obama’s words: “Al-Awlaki took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans.” 

      That is the reason he was put on the list – his “speech and his writing” were not the deciding factor. To insist otherwise is simple dishonesty.

      I’m no fan of the NDAA, far from it, but you do a major disservice when you are blatantly dishonest about the situations to buttress your argument, and it makes any argument against the NDAA you make weaker by proximity.Report

      • Zachary Sneddon in reply to Mike says:

        In Obama’s words: “Al-Awlaki took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans.”

        And as an American citizen, that would make him liable to prosecution for treason and for conspiracy to commit murder; it does NOT waive his Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of due process of law as a natural-born American citizen; or his Sixth Amendment guarantee of a speedy and public trial by a jury of his peers; to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.  To the contrary, the prosecution of treason is explicitly covered by the Constitution, in Article III Section 3.  “No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open court.”

        IF the name of an American citizen comes up,  however, there is an EXTRA level of scrutiny given to the advised listing. The panel doing the reviewing are all high security clearance, which makes sense because much of the data they will need to see doubtless compromises the identities of the intelligence operatives or the methods by which it was gathered – putting it in open court would likely mean that further gathering by that method began to be useless (see: how AQ stopped using cell phones) or even put the operatives in deep cover in danger.

        Makes sense?!  No, it does NOT make sense!  There should NEVER be an American citizen on ANY extrajudicial kill list at ANY time for ANY reason, no matter what they may or may not have done!  Pardon my indignant outburst, but so f***ing what if open testimony in court renders further intelligence gathering useless?  The ability to gather intelligence is outweighed by the due process of law guaranteed by the Constitution which the entire administration has sworn to uphold.  If we give up on the (at the very least pretense of) basic protections of civil liberties which have defined our system of justice since we became a nation, we give up that which has historically made our nation great.

        Had al-Awlaki been killed in a lawful combat zone through military conflict or during the course of arrest by a duly-represented law enforcement detachment attempting to serve a valid warrant, I wouldn’t be having this conversation, but that isn’t what happened.  What happened was that an anonymous senior official in the intelligence community decided he needed to be killed by drone strike over territory which is not an authorized war zone, and the POTUS at least implicitly signed off on it.

        Anwar al-Awlaki may very well have been the worst person in the world, and fully deserving of a swift and unmerciful death.  But in depriving him of life without the Constitutional due process of law to which his American citizenship entitled him, the administration officials responsible for the strike, up to and including the POTUS, have clearly violated that Constitution, which every member of that administration has sworn a solemn oath to uphold.

        I voted for Obama / Biden in 2008, and I do think they’ve done a better job at governance than McCain / Palin would have, but having sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic as an active duty sailor in the U.S. Navy, this utter disregard for the foundational document of our entire system of law is an action I cannot condone, overlook, or let slide.

        I’m voting for Ron Paul in 2012.Report