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That's right Nick.
You named 3 things that happened during the last Presidency that led to our losing this past election; an unpopular war and mishandling of Iraq, poor management in Katrina, and spending.
I definately agree with one of those things. In Iraq, we took down a ruthless dictator who at one time plotted to kill a sitting President and had attacked his neigbors in an attempt to monopolize middle eastern oil. We destroyed the worlds 4th largest army at a cost of fewer than 5000 U.S. lives including post war. Our only problem with Iraq was one of public relations. We are seeing now that this war was a good idea and was an astounding success. Now we'll see if the real "next Vietnam" which is Afganistan can be handled as well by Obama.
We should never have allowed any post Katrina strife to be laid at the foot of the Bush administration. The local government of a major city failed and that was all democrat. The state government failed which too was run by democrats. A bunch of whiney welfare state losers proved that living in a welfare state only makes you dependant on the government for every need. You need look no further than the 4 devastating storms that hit Florida the year prior and the devastating storm that hit Houston this past year to see how Republicans handle such disasters.
As far as the spending goes Bush needed to grow a pair and say "look, I'm sorry if seniors cannot afford their drugs, but it is not a function of Government to supply them to you. Even if it was we haven't the money to do it." These drugs didn't exist 15 years ago. Now because they do exist you somehow have a right to them? All this was was a payout to the drug companies and an attempt to look bipartisan. W probably made more effort to be bipartisan than any President in recent history and look what it got him.
Bush also managed to disintigrate the conservative base by his stance on immigration reform, his inability to follow through on the defense of marriage ammendment, reforming of social security, and the school voucher program, and his general inablility to make a rousing inspirational speach that contained half way coherent ideas.
There is no evidence that we have ever lost an election when there was a true leader of the conservative movement. The problem with moderates is that they are the ones who vote against people like Tom Tanchredo (sorry for the spelling) or Fred Thompson so that we end up with candidates like John McCain. That is why conservatives have problems with the "moderates" that like to call themselves republicans. By the time we get to a general election we're stairing at Arlan Specter, Olympia Snow, and Suzanne Collins and have no choice but to vote for them.
I think Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani both knew instinctively that there was no point in killing themselves for a practically certain loss; they understood that the pendulum was swinging so hard and fast back in the direction of the communists that there wasn't a Republican on Earth that could've won--even Ronald Reagan himself would've lost to Obongo, that's how badly people wanted to give the communists a chance at the White House again after 8 years of what they thought was a conservative...
And Mark, what you said about the elected official representing the ideals of the people they represent--that is scary when you think about the dumbed-down and degraded state of the electorate nowadays...check out the movie "Idiocracy" for a good laugh/cry...we are living in a society where most leading law schools eagerly recruit and admit 97% of barely or marginally literate black applicants, while only 3% of highly qualified white males gain admission. Diversity trumps competence everywhere, and we are now seeing the consequences of an entire economic engine oriented toward "fairness" and home ownership for everyone regardless of ability to pay. And don't get started about greed and Wall Street and all that; the derivatives debacle, the yuppie house-flippers, etc. would never have metastisized the way it all did if only the race-hustling shakedown hate-whitey communists in government hadn't forced and encouraged and back-stopped banks into making all those bad loans--Wall Street has merely been trying to find creative ways to mitigate and even profit from the runaway affirmative-action economic schemes of Bill Clinton, Brokeback Obongo, Barney Frank, Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelick, and the Congressional Black Caucus.
Brian is right in that we need to run candidates that are capable of winning in the areas where they are being voted on. This is also the whole idea of Representative Government. The candidate should represent the ideals of the people whom they represent. It is also necessary to understand the importance of having the majority regardless of how each individual votes. This is a fact of how our government works. It is in the power of the chair to prevent or stop debate.
Where I think he is wrong is in assuming that people are moderates. A vast majority of American citizens have no opinion on politics and wouldn't know a democrat or republican from a cheesecake. I am from Massachusetts and as popular as the Red Sox are it is a minority of the populous of the state that actually care about any sports. We all follow politics very closely but the vast majority do not. The truth is that most Americans do agree with conservative stances when they are actually confronted with reasoned arguments. That is why Reagan didn't just win. Every now and then I like to pull up his electoral maps and laugh at how the Dems think Obama had such a resounding victory. Reagan made the conservative arguments to the people in a way that made them think and say "Yea...I agree with that.".
We need to fight for conservative candidates in the primary and then support the primary winner in the general election. The damage done by having a democrat with whom you agree with nothing is much worse than voting in a Republican with whom you disagree with on a few things.
On Specter, NO HE GETS NO CREDIT. I didn't credit Manny Ramirez for hitting the skin off of the baseball for the Dodgers last year when he knew he was playing for a contract. Specter is up for reelection so now he's pandering. He is not for smaller government. For that matter neither is anyone who's been there for as long as he has. TERM LIMITS ANYONE???
On Thompson I agree with you Brian. He did run a half hearted campaign. It is unfortunate that people do not vote on ideas because his were great and he had a track record to back it up. I also believe he could have been that man that spoke those ideas in a way that turned people. His lack of ambition for the job I found admirable but it doesn't lend well to getting a majority of voters. I would rather have someone who wants his ideals in the Whitehouse then someone who just cares about having wednesday night parties there.
I'm not sure Brian is so much of a moderate, he's just not an idealist as we are. I think the question "Room for moderate voices?" though sounds too much like someone trying to keep the party from moving to the right. I think the back and forth between moderates and staunch conservatives is healthy. If we all believe in states rights we can have states that are moderately republican and those that are conservative. As long as when we get to Washington we push for smaller federal government and increased power to the states.