This fortnight, TCR looks at current political meltdowns and what it could mean for us come November.
Bill Clinton: Have you ever seen a quicker fall from grace than Bill Clinton? Over the last seven years he had morphed into a statesman above partisanship. All that was washed away over the last two weeks of petty politics, mudslinging and yes, melting down. It is clear that Hillary's campaign is really about Bill (it always was) and haven't we had enough of the Clinton's? Now even our liberal friends are seeing the light, the New Republic, the Kennedy's, etc. However, they still may survive and lead the Democrats, which would be good for us, I think.
Chuck Rosenthal (and indirectly the Harris County District Attorney's office): In early December if you would have told TCR this meltdown would be the leading story in Houston for almost a month, we would not believe it. First a little history, under Carol Vance and Johnny Holmes, the DA's office was a respected non-partisan operation for over thirty years. Since Rosenthal's election in 2000 with an assist from Mr. Holmes, he has had problems (innocence project resistance, crime lab controversy), but generally he had been okay and out of the news.
But since late December, Rosenthal and his office have been buffeted by one scandal after another. Questionable emails to a (former?) girlfriend who is his well paid executive assistant, circulation of racist and pornographic videos, destruction of emails ordered produced in a federal lawsuit, the misleading of the David Medina matter, revelations of plans to "pressure" a District Judge to obtain certain case results and violations of law prohibiting strikes of prospective jurors based on race.
Rosenthal correctly withdrew as a candidate for re-election weeks ago. As TCR predicted, that if other shoes were going to drop, he needed to resign too. Now they have, and his continuing meltdown is now damaging the DA's office itself.
For the vast majority of fine employees of the DA's office who go about their jobs conscientiously and ethically, this is not fair or right. Rosenthal's continuing meltdown threatens the good will that took years to build up and weeks to disappear. Some minorities believe the DA's office is at best racially insensitive and at worst, racist. These developments will make it increasingly difficult for the DA's office to function the way it needs to and that is bad for all law-abiding citizens of Harris County. It also threatens the GOP hold of the DA's office and the continuing meltdown could serve as an anchor holding down the entire GOP ticket!
Which brings me to the last current meltdown and this entity is for the most part a victim of the ongoing scandals, the Harris County GOP. After the 2006 election, where Dallas County essentially fell to the Democrats, some suggested in 2008 that Harris County would be next for the same reasons. TCR disagreed and still does. However, Harris County is now looking like Nassau County, New York, where GOP domination for years disappeared due to scandal, corruption, and the same incompetence.
The Harris County GOP has been rocked by crises and media stories about key GOP officials. TCR above deals with the Rosenthal saga, but there are also other Republicans unfairly criticized in the media (who do not like Republicans generally.) If the past has taught us anything, the media is all too willing to overlook skeletons in the Democrat's closets to take hits at Republicans, whether justified or not. The current battle for County Judge between Ed Emmett and Charles Bacarisse finds the latter is fanning the flames of the media stories and trying to attach Judge Emmett to them. Meanwhile, the Democrats plan for Harris County is to run a campaign blaming the problems on one party rule and reliable sources say that federal indictments are coming soon.
The embattled county GOP has shown remarkable courage and leadership demanding the DA's mess be cleaned up and that Rosenthal go, but there is much more to do.
The voters want to know which candidates and which parties can and will do what needs to be done to right the ship and make the necessary changes required. The GOP needs to nominate candidates who can bring about the conservative changes needed or we will cede the change issue to the Democrats.
GOP Presidential Politics: An Update
Yes, it is true Ronald Reagan is not running for the GOP in 2008, so let us move on.
Our choice after Florida is probably down to Mitt Romney or John McCain. Neither is perfect, neither was Reagan (though he got your editor involved in politics), but both are significantly better than Obama or Clinton.
The first thing we as conservatives need to consider is who can win in November, and we cannot win with GOP votes alone, since our identified support level is around 35%.
So back to our choices. John McCain is in fact conservative on most issues (he has a lifetime ACU rating of 82.3%.) He does have an independent streak and has led on some high profile issues: the war in Iraq (proven right), campaign finance reform (proven wrong), entitlement reform and spending control (right), immigration reform (learned that border control comes first), judicial confirmation (gang of 14 was successful in getting conservative judges confirmed, who were going nowhere.) So on balance, he's right. He also is in the best position to win in November as things stand today and that is important, isn't it? 1/25/08 WSJ-NBC Poll: McCain 46% - Clinton 44%.
Mitt Romney, businessman, fixed the Winter Olympics, Governor of Massachusetts who took conservative positions on social issues and did interesting work on health reform and has embraced conservative policies as a candidate. He is smart, capable and significantly better than the other party's choices.
So TCR recommends that you support the candidate you like, but remember to be constructive in your criticism of others, as he could be our standard bearer and we have to unite to have any chance of winning.
TCR's Keys To Victory In Texas 2008
Marjorie Arsht RIP
- Unite the Party.
- Nominate the most attractive candidates.
- Build from the bottom up, from the courthouse to the White House and campaign that way.
- Help the Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton and sideline Barack Obama.
- Purge from our ticket the incompetent, the unethical and the unprincipled.
- Whatever bad news that is coming for the GOP in Texas and Harris County, get it out now and move ahead.
- In key races, look hard at the Democratic opponents and define them, before they do it.
- The GOP needs to speak to concerns of middle class voters with conservative answers, here are a few ideas: (1) health care with tax benefits going to the individual and not the business (and at the same time increasing portability); (2) increase competition in the health care industry; (3) expand child tax credit against all payroll taxes (including SSI and Medicare); (4) help downward wage pressure by cutting illegal immigration which will sharply reduce the inflow of workers over the border (also fines for businesses hiring illegals and a biometric worker ID will also help.)
Marjorie Arsht, longtime GOP activist, past recipient of the Harris County Republican Party's Pioneer Award and original supporter of President George H. W. Bush in 1963 when he ran for county chairman, died this week at the age of 93. She was a strong advocate for the GOP and her deeply held positions. She will be missed.
Kyle Janek Retires
Longtime GOP legislator Senator Kyle Janek announced his retirement this week to spend more time with his wife and three cute children now in Austin. Janek served in the State House prior to serving six years in the Texas Senate.
TCR thanks Senator Janek for his service and wishes him and his family nothing but the best.
COMING Friday, February 15, 2008 at 8:00 pm and Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 5:00 pm on Channel 8 PBS in Houston, Texas - The Connection - Red, White & Blue, featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones, a one hour special with the Harris County Republican District Attorney candidates. Coming soon: David Frum, former chief speechwriter to President Bush and author of the new book Comeback Conservatism that Can Win Again.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his tenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last six years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.