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The Daily Local News

Feb 11

What do the “severely conservative” care about?

What are the big issues facing the country and the world today?  Name three and please keep them in mind.

Although I don’t like to use words that call others’ intelligence into question, I am looking at the capaciously-titled article “At CPAC, Santorum Surges Despite Idiotic Claims; Romney Poses as ‘Severe’ Conservative; Gingrich Makes War on GOP,” by Adele Stan at Alternet, 2/11/12.

It’s an analysis of the Conservative Political Action Conference speeches yesterday in Washington, where the Republican candidates are outdoing each other to win the right-wing and TEA Party vote.

As has been in the news, that’s where Romney pronounced the mysterious phrase: “I was a severely conservative governor.”

I’m not going to look at who said what, just what their themes were according to the Alternet article:

I am more conservative than you are (which depends on what “conservative”) really means

gay marriage


the “radical idea” of “man-made global warming”

"government control of choices that should be up to the individual — choices like what kind of light bulb to buy and what kind of car to drive"

"among the nations of the world, the highest standard of living was enjoyed by those nations that used the most of the world’s energy resources" (which is a good thing, the speaker meant)

contraception coverage by employer-provided health insurance

"Americans could expect President Barack Obama, if he is re-elected, to ‘wage war on the Catholic Church’"

For more issues, see the Washington Post online for day 2 (yesterday):

“UPS and Fedex track tens of millions of packages, but the federal government cannot track 11 million illegals — even if they sit still”

The three leading candidates didn’t address CPAC on day 1, but one said then to the media:

"I want to create every opportunity for women to be able to serve this country . . . but I do have concerns about women in front-line combat.”

The Post doesn’t seem to be live-blogging day 3 (today) but you get the idea.

Leaving aside whatever our personal positions are: are those the big issues of our time?

When US jobs have been in a tailspin for four years, conservatives are talking about light bulbs? 

When millions of homes have been foreclosed, conservatives are still talking about who wants to have sex with whom and how?

As the US position in the Middle East and world declines and Bin Laden’s grand anti-West strategy spreads, conservatives are talking about who gets to fight in the front lines?

Please, let’s start with a serious world view.  Actually, Ron Paul, for all his failings, is the only remaining conservative candidate who seems to have one of those.  I’d so like a candidate—any candidate—to explain his personal philosophy and how it leads to his solutions for the biggest problems of the world.  Not one-liners, but ten minutes of reason.  Naive, I know.

To be fair, maybe the candidates at CPAC see what Americans do in their homes and places of worship as a big problem of the world.  I just don’t, and I don’t think the government should be concerned with it.  When the TEA Party started up talking about freedom and small government, I thought that’s what they meant, but I guess not.

To be even fairer, we could find some real issues above: immigration policy, global warming, freedom of belief without government intervention.  If the candidates were talking about such concerns in a reasoned, factual manner (see the Post’s Fact Check on conference utterances), maybe their collective standing would rise. 

I’m sure most of us would rather have an idea-oriented debate in the fall than the PAC-driven hit ads we are going to get.

Before that whole new round of nastiness starts, let’s end not with an issue but on a humorous note from day 2, 10:39 a.m.:

Foster Freiss, who is bankrolling a pro-Santorum super PAC, began his introduction of the Pennsylvania senator with a joke

“A conservative, a moderate and a liberal walk into a bar,” he said. ”The bartender says ‘hi Mitt.’”

Seriously, if I had to choose, I’d rather have a candidate who might be able to learn on the job and not follow a pre-ordained, inflexible ideology.  The fact is, the more effective Republican presidents, like Eisenhower and Reagan, evolved in office.

But a candidate who has had some successes by proving himself flexible and open to new ideas trying to sound inflexible and closed to new ideas is not a pretty sight.

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