I got a kick out of Mark Steyn's commentary this morning, at the Orange County Register. He notes that the real diversity in this year's presidential race is in the Republican Party:
Only five weeks left to the earliest Primary Day in New Hampshire history, and still, whenever I'm being interviewed on radio or TV, I've no ready answer to the question: Which candidate are you supporting?Steyn notes that the Democrats are fighting over trivial issues, like whether Barack Obama's world travels as a fourth-grader count as "foreign policy experience."
If I could just sneak out in the middle of the night and saw off Rudy Giuliani's strong right arm and John McCain's ramrod back and Mitt Romney's fabulous hair and stitch them all together in Baron von Frankenstein's laboratory with the help of some neck bolts, we'd have the perfect Republican nominee. As it is, the present field poses difficulties for almost every faction of the GOP base.
Rudy Giuliani was a brilliant can-do executive who transformed the fortunes of what was supposedly one of the most ungovernable cities in the nation. But on guns, abortion and almost every other social issue he's anathema to much of the party. Mike Huckabee is an impeccable social conservative but, fiscally speaking, favors big-government solutions with big-government price tags. Ron Paul has a long track record of sustained philosophically coherent support for small government but he's running as a neo-isolationist on war and foreign policy. John McCain believes in assertive American global leadership but he believes just as strongly in constitutional abominations like McCain-Feingold.
So if you're a pro-gun anti-abortion tough-on-crime victory-in-Iraq small-government Republican the 2008 selection is a tough call. Mitt Romney, the candidate whose (current) policies least offend the most people, happens to be a Mormon, which, if the media are to be believed, poses certain obstacles for elements of the Christian right.
On the other hand, as National Review's Jonah Goldberg pointed out, the mainstream media are always demanding the GOP demonstrate its commitment to "big tent" Republicanism, and here we are with the biggest of big tents in history, and what credit do they get? You want an anti-war Republican? A pro-abortion Republican? An anti-gun Republican? A pro-illegal immigration Republican? You got 'em! Short of drafting Fidel Castro and Mullah Omar, it's hard to see how the tent could get much bigger. As the new GOP bumper sticker says, "Celebrate Diversity."
But I really like this point:
Let me ask a question of my Democrat friends: What does John Edwards really believe on Iraq? I mean, really? To pose the question is to answer it: There's no there there. In the Dem debates, the only fellow who knows what he believes and says it out loud is Dennis Kucinich. Otherwise, all is pandering and calculation. The Democratic Party could use some seriously fresh thinking on any number of issues – abortion, entitlements, racial preferences – but the base doesn't want to hear, and no viable candidate is man enough (even Hillary) to stick it to 'em. I disagree profoundly with McCain and Giuliani, but there's something admirable about watching them run in explicit opposition to significant chunks of their base and standing their ground. Their message is: This is who I am. Take it or leave it.
I've commented at length on the Democrats, particularly on the foreign policies of the major candidates (my statement on Hillary Clinton's disastrous foriegn policy is here, including additional links).
As I noted in my previous post, the Democratic Party's record on Iraq this year as been abysmal. It's too early to make reasonable predictions on the outcome of GOP nomination race, but I'm optimistic that we'll get strong leadership from the ultimate Republican standard-bearer.
Perhaps a little diversity too!