I had a recent opportunity to have some holiday cheer and briefly talk politics with two longtime conservative associates; one a Mike Huckabee leaner and the other a Fred Thompson guy. The arguments (paraphrasing) went like this:
Huckabee guy: Huck is the one who can truly re-energize the Christian Conservatives in the party, he has a good sense of humor, presents himself well and his personality surely will attract moderates, not scare them off. His recent ‘surge’ is evidence of a winning political ear, which we will need to beat Hillary. He also was a successful governor from a Southern state, and despite a few missteps that all politicians have, he has a solid, conservative platform, just check out his website. Besides, Hunter does not have traction.
Thompson guy: Fred is the guy to beat Rudy McRomney. His record on fiscal issues and government reform and federalism is impressive and no one ever considered him a liberal, like some of these other schmucks. And his endorsement by the National Right to Life organization last month over Huck and Hunter shows that he is fully capable of carrying the values voters. And his recent position papers on social security and Illegal immigration are the type of clearheaded thinking the country needs in a President.
Me: Just look at their records in totality. Hunter is strongest and most consistent on borders, military affairs, foreign policy, sovereignty, tax cuts, anti-communism, all the most important things we need in a commander in chief right now. Hunter’s warnings about China and porous borders and losses of industrial might have all come home to roost, and most of the other candidates have been far less than helpful in these areas throughout their careers.
Three reasonable arguments for three Republicans in good standing? So it would seem.
But there is a significant difference that my friends both grudgingly admitted to: Hunter has been the most consistent of the three throughout their careers. However, both stressed the ‘here and now’, using Huckabee’s recent “strong” position on enforcing our borders and Fred’s willingness to tackle entitlements, respectively, as more proof of their candidate’s veracity and viability.
But if we are to give great weight to what a politician says during the course of a campaign for the GOP nomination, then one could argue that Rudy and McCain and Romney also deserve accolades and support for their candidacies. And indeed, they do have a fair amount of support and accolades at this time. If you read the position papers and policy statements and see the debate answers from each of these men, it is possible to coherently argue for any one of them being the superior man for President.
Though both of my friends were more than happy to rake Rudy and Romney and McCain over the coals for their past ‘sins’ against conservatism, they were able to minimize and basically ignore the less savory aspects of their chosen man’s record with ease. I do not argue that all transgressions against conservatism are equal, they are not. But giving undue weight to the rhetoric of a candidate’s stump speech or policies posted on a campaign website is an exercise in rationalization, not prudent evaluation.
So how do we separate them as they all dash for the title of ‘strong conservative leader’? The answer: Vision.
Vision is what separates a man like Ronald Reagan from a man like his Vice President, George Herbert Walker Bush. Vision provides the ability to see what lies over the horizon, the courage to confront it before it spins into chaos, and the wisdom to apply conservative solutions, regardless of how tantalizing or expedient a more liberal remedy may be. Vision also entails the ability to clearly recognize history for what it truly is, including the underlying wisdom our founders espoused, and including the knowledge of man’s nature. Vision is what separates those whose values are anchored like roots of a 200 year old oak tree from those who use a moistened finger to assess the political winds.
Vision is what sets Duncan Hunter apart from ALL of the others. That vision is reflected in his consistency, his record, his press statements, his long held beliefs and his current platform. No other candidate, other than Ron Paul (who espouses an odd hybrid of libertarianism and leftism), comes close to the having a rock solid vision that has animated his entire life and public service. The winds of change may have devastated large swaths of the Republican Party in recent years, but they just caused Hunter to dig in deeper and to fight even harder. While others pander to the current circumstances of a Republican primary and to subgroups within the GOP, Hunter is as he was; an America-first, conservative patriot with the unflinching vision of what our country stands for.
This article compares Hunter to the other candidates on China & Trade, Tax Cuts, and Bureaucracy and the Nanny State. It's a different format from other articles posted, and it is well done. Other of Mr. Madison's essays for Duncan Hunter have been posted here, and they are all phenomenal. (excerpt...seee http://towncriernews.blogspot.com/2007/12/vision-vs-pandering-why-duncan-hunter.html)