Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Now for Something Completely Different ...

Note to Reader: What follows is NOT an endorsement. I will vote and labor furiously for the Democratic nominees – as always – for Governor and President, and every other office.

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Now for something completely different ….
By Wayne Goodwin © 20 November 2007

Today I am going to put aside my partisan hat – yes, it is possible, albeit for moments at a time – and ponder, without casting aspersions, about what in the world is going on in the GOP races for Governor and President.

This will be one of those times when I am able to dust off my Poli Sci degree and – as Spinal Tap aficionados would recognize – turn the realpolitik up to an eleven.

In doing so, this is NOT to be confused whatsoever with an endorsement: I am merely musing.

OK, here we go.

First, the North Carolina Governor’s race.

There are three Republican candidates who are definitely going to file in February 2008. They are State Senator Fred Smith, Salisbury attorney Bill Graham, and former Supreme Court justice Bob Orr.

In my opinion, anything could happen in that primary. While both Smith and Graham have ample personal financial resources (along with one having the ubiquitous name “Smith” and the other probably benefiting from a name association with North Carolina’s own world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham), I am here to tell you this: Bob Orr is a great guy. Yes, I know, our politics do not always match – in fact, mostly do NOT match. But in my personal interactions with him over the years and from what I have heard first-hand from good Democratic friends of mine, not to mention attorneys who have seen his mind at work on judicial matters, he is the real deal. He is genuine. Bob Orr is humble, salt-of-the-earth, and down-to-earth. He’s the kind of guy you’d imagine sharing a beer with. Or, at least BBQ wings. On top of that, he is the ONLY one of the three Republican gubernatorial candidates who has run for Statewide office. In fact, he has run Statewide multiple times and won multiple times. And, he’s smart as a whip. Some Republicans voting in the primary might compare him to the 2000 George W. Bush (you recall, the “compassionate conservative” version of him as opposed to the 2001-forward version) and see some similarities. (Except for the smart-as-a-whip part.) And Bush won his Party’s nomination and the White House to boot.

(P.S. Bob, when we saw each other at last week’s dedication of the new Administrative Office of the Court building in Raleigh, you point-blank asked me to include you on my blog – a Democratic blog! I promised. Here you go. Promise kept, as is my rule. … I still think your blog – entitled “More from Orr” - will make voters born in the 60s and 70s think of “Mork from Ork” instead. But I digress.)

Second, the Republican race for President.

Like the Democratic primary race for the White House, the GOP has a fluid situation on its hands with its contenders.

In this instance, you have Guliani who is the alleged frontrunner for the GOP nomination but he is philosophically anathema to much of the activist evangelical, conservative Republican base.

Romney, on the other hand, is making some of the same right-wing religious voters nervous as well, but he and Guliani both have a ton of money. With Romney’s ability to self-fund, nothing is impossible if he needs to flood the airwaves with TV commercials in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Then there is the quartet of Huckabee, Thompson, Paul, and McCain. (Other Republicans are or were also running, but are zippo on all respected meters.)

I believe Huckabee will either come in a strong second place in Iowa or he will barely edge folks – particularly Romney - in the Iowa caucuses in a few weeks. Why? Just a gut feeling. After all, he’s got feet on the ground with volunteers, he’s from a nearby state, he’s a former Governor (which is important in presidential politics), he’s a uber-conservative Baptist minister with a story to tell, and his poll numbers are rising. He has been endorsed by actor Chuck Norris and wrestling legend “Nature Boy” Ric (“to be The Man, you’ve got to Beat The Man”) Flair. And he comes from a place called Hope. (Same Arkansas hometown as President Bill Clinton.)

For Thompson, there are some indications that the bloom is off the rose. His “Law and Order” fame aside, and relative obscurity for his role in exposing Nixon’s Oval Office tapes during the Watergate hearings 34 years ago, it seems that he has not transformed the race the way some had projected. Of course, things could change among the fickle electorate in the early presidential caucus and primary season.

Meanwhile, Ron Paul is the Libertarian Party’s answer to a prayer. That party has fought for years to gain “street cred” in national elections but has time and again had a rough go at it. Paul ran on the Libertarian ticket in 1988, I believe, before returning to Congress as a Republican from Texas. As the Libertarians have wallowed lower and lower in vote totals, lo and behold a little creation called the Internet has allowed them to convalesce around Ron Paul en masse and – shockingly – contribute wads and wads of campaign cash. He is now the Internet fundraising darling. And he is going to spend his money by the bucketload in Iowa and New Hampshire and however long he can until the last penny is spent. And then he will drop out, run for re-election to Congress, and be drafted as either an independent candidate or Libertarian Party candidate for President again. I have to admit, when watching the Republicans debate I am inwardly pleased to see him jostle up things when he advocates for troop withdrawals from Iraq and other positions contrary to every other Republican running. … And is it me or is there a flurry of “Ron Paul for President” signs and bumper stickers around metro North Carolina, quite intriguing when the GOP nomination will be decided well before Tar Heel Republicans have their presidential primary in May 2008? (To prove my point, the morning after I penned the above this story ran: http://www.newsobserver.com/politics/story/777522.html)

Just like my comment about Bob Orr in the governor’s race above, I do have similar feelings about U.S. Senator John McCain. Once again quite many of my policy positions differ from his. But McCain, unlike every one of the other Republicans running for the White House, is the real deal. He takes tough positions (McCain-Feingold, his immigration position, anti-torture, as three examples) even when he knows it is antithetical to some of his partisans and even when it could and very well will cost him the 2008 presidential nomination. With his 2000 “Straight Talk Express” still a fond memory for the nation as it saw a maverick in action, what really gets me in my gut is this: This man is a true war hero. He survived heinous torture as a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam. For five years! And through it all he never has wavered from his commitment to this country. McCain could have returned an honorably discharged war veteran and located a cushy job somewhere on multiple defense contractor boards and the like. Instead, he chose and has remained committed to public service. (Fortuitously, AP ran a story proving my point: http://www.newsobserver.com/1573/story/777074.html.)

Neither Orr nor McCain may win their respective GOP nominations. But they are good guys.

Meanwhile, back to your regularly-scheduled program already in progress:

DEMOCRATS WILL STILL WIN BOTH the Governor’s race in North Carolina and the White House in 2008.

See, I told you my lapse into impartiality was momentary!

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Note to Reader: What appears above regarding the GOP is NOT an endorsement. I will vote and labor furiously for the Democratic nominees – as always – for Governor and President, and every other office.


Wayne Goodwin said...

Below is the very kind email I received from Robert (Bob) Orr in response to my essay:

"Wayne, how many people from the 60’s and 70’s actually read blogs? I confess Mork and Mindy are long gone from my memory but, hey, you’re trading on Wayne’s World and Mike Meyers. I’ll put Mork up against Wayne any time. But that being said, thanks for the kind comments, and I always believe that good government should transcend partisanship. Maybe that’s why my democratic friends keep saying nice things about me. Hope they’ll tell their GOP and unaffiliated friends to vote for me. And chicken wings and cold beer have to go together. I’ll count on getting together with you sometime soon to do just that. Have a great Thanksgiving. Bob Ork….I mean Orr"

Anonymous said...

It's hard not to like a good Burnsville boy.

Anonymous said...

Wayne, your thoughts are interesting as usual. The one note which surprises me is your surprise about Libertarians having cash (e.g., the Ron Paul contributions). Remember, these are the guys who worship at the altar of the mythical unregulated free market and proclaim "greed is good". Those with any savvy at all put it into amassing cash. In North Carolina, for example, an alarmingly high number of daily newspapers are owned by the Libertarian-oriented Freedom Group media conglomerate (New Bern, Kinston, Gastonia, etc.). Naturally, their editorial party line reliably reflects that bias--scarily ignorant about things like environmental regulations and climate change.


Wayne Goodwin said...

Dan, first of all, thank you! Second, you are absolutely right ... I shouldn't have been surprised about Libertarians. I suppose what I'm more accurately surprised at is seeing, at what may be the first time, Libertarians maximize more of two things - both the Internet for fundraising and getting behind a GOP candidate more visibly than in recent memory. ... As for newspapers owned by Libertarians, it is worrisome indeed for the reasons you gave.

Wayne Goodwin said...

Yesterday's "Under the Dome" blog (ala Ryan Teague Beckwith) at the Raleigh News & Observer website shared another tidbit about Bob Orr: He was the dissenting Supreme Court justice who ruled IN FAVOR OF the victims of the Imperial Foods fire in Hamlet. For that, and as a native son of Hamlet myself, I applaud Mr. Orr. His quote to the Asheville Citizen-Times (and highlighted in the N&O) summed it up best, "There was a theory ... 'The king can do no wrong.' Well, I don't buy into that."

As a sidebar, I tried to seek a statutory repair to the court decision - known as Stone v. NC Dept of Labor - but my legislative colleagues and I could not persuade enough lawmakers to adopt the decision that would have favored the Hamlet workers and families. They chose to side with the King instead of the people.

Douglas said...

Wayne, insightful as always. Please keep writing these thought provoking posts.