Elkhorn Creek Lodge

The McCain Post-Mortem

Posted in economics, obama, politics by Eugene Podrazik on November 6, 2008

If only McCain had campaigned by …, then we would have won. If only. If only. If only he could see and follow my vital advice, then he’d be president. All the nit-picking doesn’t detract from the fact that McCain managed to keep the election close right up to the end. His doggedness may not have won him the election, but it prevented a far worse debacle in the House and Senate.  With some luck, the GOP may return to Washington with 43 senators.

To restate the obvious, this was supposedly a Democratic year supercharged with a mid-September financial meltdown. There was a MSM, unabashedly in the tank for Obama, providing millions of dollars of in-kind contributions by functioning as the Obama campaign ad agency; hiding Obama’s very serious shortcomings and simultaneously smearing McCain and Palin. Yet, the Democrats didn’t run away with this election. The electoral college results don’t hide that this is yet another 50/50 nation election. The GOP’s performance in the face of this brutal MSM assault speaks well of the durability of the GOP and its standbearer, McCain. Frankly, it speaks ill of the Democratic message that it gains were contained as well as they were last night.

The real truth is that this election wasn’t lost last night. Rather, McCain’s defeat was the results of the accretion of events over the last twenty years that took the GOP, step by step, farther from the basics of Reagan’s philosophies of lower taxes and less government. Each step took the GOP back to the RINO or me-too Republican. The electorate just figured why vote for Democrat-lite when you can vote for the real thing. McCain’s mistake in this campaign was his contribution, over the years, to this Democrat-lite state of mind.

Economics are conservative facts of life. Unless both parties feel that an exchange of goods or services is mutually beneficial, it will not occur. Government intervention will cause money and economic activity to go elsewhere. The boring mantra of less taxes and less government is the key to Reagan’s success. And, the establishment of a political critical mass, in Washington, that finally replaced disagreements of degree between the me-too Republicans and the Democrats with fundamental disagreements of kind as to government’s role.

But, starting with Bush I, we started to dilute Reagan’s message with a “kinder and gentler” America. What I couldn’t figure out was why Reagan’s policies weren’t just that. He reversed the high inflation and high unemployment of the Carter years with prosperity. Pretty kind and gentle to me. He turned back the advance of the USSR; a country and governing philosophy that was responsible for the murder of tens of millions of it’s own people. But, Reagan, that militarist reactionary, was far more unkind than the Soviet GULAG. Of course, removing the threat of nuclear incineration, courtesy the USSR, was very unkind.

So, amid the rubble of last night are the seeds for future success:

The first, is Joe-the-Plumber. He’s going to haunt any and all deliberations for any new governmental expansion. By taking up Joe’s banner, McCain finally hit his stride and started to clearly articulate a philosophy of less taxes and less government. Moreover, he managed to make socialism a dirty word. Also, in a larger sense, the bill for the financial meltdown can only be paid back by economic growth. That growth will only come from small business; the likes of Joe. What we do to the Joe’s of America will reflect on the economic performance of our country in the coming years. For this election, thanks to the MSM, there wasn’t enough time to have these themes truly resonate with the electorate.

As the long term reality of the September financial meltdown really starts to register, there will be some grim satisfaction to see the Democrats having to fully address the fruits of their corruption. And, it will be the GOP’s responsibility to hammer that point home. To point out that every dollar of pork barrel is another ACORN/Community Reinvestment Act in the making. By foreswearing pork, the GOP, with McCain’s bona fides, has the opportunity to make pork synonymous with the Democratic Party. Pork is poison; every dollar is yet another opportunity for corruption and a dagger aimed at individual rights.

With the articulation of Joe’s cause, we can now press the point that corruption was the flaw that rocked our financial system last September. More, importantly, our free market system is sound. And, again, economic growth is the only path our–even though low taxes and less government will make you a real bore on the Georgetown cocktail party circuit.

Another, foundation for the future is that of Sarah Palin. She, I think, remains untarnished despite this defeat. We, in fact, may have a politician of the caliber of Reagan. I can well imagine her collecting tons of IOU’s on the rubber chicken circuit by stumping for congressional, senatorial and gubernatorial candidates over the next two years. And, I can see her cashing in on those IOU’s by becoming the first woman president.

Then, too is Bobby Jindal, from Louisiana. Ultimately, because of executive experience as governors, these two, Palin and Jindal, are going to be far more effective presidents than candidates hailing from the Senate.

The facts of life are conservative. So, are the laws of nature. 

Foreign policy will rear its ugly head. Regardless of domestic bread and butter issues, there are forces that now have reach to wreak mayhem within our borders. By intervening early in our war on Islamic imperialism, we are able to accomplish the task with a peace-time military. And, this in blood and treasure, will be far cheaper than to back away only to inevitably return to fight that war; but now on a war-time footing. If Obama fails, it will fall to the GOP, particularly McCain, to make sure that we stay in the fight and we take the fight to the source. This will not be an issue of partisan advantage, since lives, military and civilian, will directly be at stake. Ultimately, for all of Obama’s youthful flirting with radicalism, he’s going to have to face that we are at war with a world-view, Islam, that is completely opposed to our concept of individual rights. A world-view lead by very evil men. And, he can’t hide because if he refuses to fight it at the source, it will come to our shores.

Like the Cold War, our current war(s) will be long term engagements lasting decades. And, in time, the public will again begin to see that fighting to win, not “containment” is ultimately the only solution to the problem of Islamic imperialism. And, here again, we come to a basic Reagan tenant of a muscular foreign policy.  Reagan pursued a variety of approaches in defeating the USSR. But, the success of all of his foreign policy engagements were always buttressed by a strong military and the maintenance of a perception, in the eyes of our adversaries, of a willingness to use that force.

Yes, the world loves Obama for the same reason they love the UN secretary general. You can ignore him or walk all over him; your choice. If Obama chooses to govern as secretary general, the world will continue to love him. If he chooses to be president of the US it will be a sign he’s awakened to reality; and the reality that his international popularity is going to plummet. 

Energy will plague any president who ignores the laws of supply and demand. Husbanding our resources in one matter. But, forcing conversation to the point of economic contraction is another. Further, hydrocarbons and nuclear is the only way to bring sufficient energy to our economy. Period.

Solar won’t do it. The simple fact of life is there are only so many watts per square foot from solar power. And, the sun doesn’t shine at night. If the NIMBY’s object to refineries, drilling and nuclear power plants, do you think they’re going to stand by and cover, literally, square miles of land for solar power to replace any meaningful percentage of energy from hydrocarbon and nuclear?

Ditto, for all of the above, wind power.

But, the biggest issue of energy is that any policy will run headlong into the immutable laws of thermodynamics. And, engineering mechanics.

To move a give weight of material about requires work and that must be derived by burning something to generate heat and then to convert that heat to mechanical work. More weight, then more mechanical work and more heat. If you cut back on weight you will have smaller and lighter vehicles that are inherently less safe. (Air bags help, but for any give air bag if you add 100 pounds of structural weight you have a safer vehicle.) Smaller cars also mean you can’t carry as much. Like a hockey mom, two kids and two large duffels of hockey equipment.

We aren’t Europe where population densities approach 1000 people per square mile. Mass transit only works in dense population center where there are a lot of people who are going to the same places all at about the same time. Mortgage crisis or not, we also like our own homes and back yards just like the swells in Getty’s neighborhood. The net effect is we need personal transportation–a car. A car that can move a lot of stuff over longer distances. Nor, have we gotten into the transportation needs of Joe-the-Plumber. He’s going to need a full size pick-up truck for his tools and supplies. Your designer Toto toilet and gourmet granite kitchen counter top aren’t going to fit in a Prius.

Which brings us to the subject of putting America into hybrids like the Prius. All a Prius is is a 70’s style econobox with pie-pan wheels. Just updated at bit with some whiz bang technology to match your iPod. Notice how nobody misses the Gremlin, the Maverick, the Le Car or the Pinto? For all the hype about the batteries, it still a small car powered by a small gasoline engine; and all the laws of engineering mechanics and thermodynamics will govern this vehicle’s efficiency. It’s efficient because it’s small and light and therefore requires a very small engine. But, in the end, a gasoline engine is what really makes this car go. And, it’s gasoline because, weight for weight and volume for volume, gasoline is still the most efficient was to store the energy you need to move your vehicle.

And, while the Obama acolytes at the DOT are trying to figure out the ultimate no-carbon-foot car for the unwashed, Obama is going to ride around in his presidential limo. Anyway, the free market already figured all this out anyway.

No, Obama’s success with energy policy will be gauged by a very simple metric; is gas less than $2.00 per gallon at the pump. Is the blue state Northeast going to blow its collective tops when the oil truck fills up the tank for your furnace in the basement?

In the end, the basics of less taxes and less government must be continually articulated. There will always be people, holding to philosophies, that makes them think that they have a right to other people’s life. And, regardless of the last 30 years of prosperity, we will have to re-articulate the truths just as much as we did in 1980. This re-articulation is more urgent now since Obama won, in part, because most of his electorate simply forgot the world that existed before 1980 in the Carter years.

 

 

 

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