Last month my friend Kathy posted a piece on democrat lawmakers in Connecticut attempting to ban the serving of whole or 2% milk in private daycare centers (“Connecticut Dems Want Milk Control”). As Kathy astutely noted, republicans were missing the bigger picture by attempting to argue the merits of fat content in milk rather than asserting that it’s not the business of the state to decide what kind of milk is served by private childcare centers. It’s hard to say whether Connecticut republicans have misplaced their conservative principles or whether they thought a fight based on the science would be easier to win. Both prospects are highly disturbing. But if it’s the latter case it demonstrates the problem with forsaking principled arguments in favor of trying to win by shortcut. Once you allow the argument to be about the science of milk rather than the limits of the state, you’ve lost what matters most. If the state can presume the right to decide what type of milk is served in private childcare centers, it can presume the right to decide just about anything that goes on in a private business. That’s the danger of choosing the wrong argument to fight your battles.
I recall one typical family Christmas after John Kerry lost the 2004 presidential election to George Bush. My liberal brother-in-law was opining on the reasons that Bush was a bad choice for president. After the standard “Bush-lied-people-died” mantra didn’t prove persuasive enough he began parroting the democrat line about Bush being just a “C” student. “Did you know John Kerry was also a ‘C’ student?” I asked. Silence. (That’ll teach him to rely only on the MSM for information). “Did you vote for John Kerry?” I sweetly asked. This was his response, and I quote: Blink. Blink, blink. Gotcha dear brother.
The moral to the story is this: false arguments are a sure-fire way to make you look like a silly hypocrite. My brother-in-law’s big problem with Bush was not his grades or his supposed “lies” over Iraq. He disliked Bush because Bush is a republican and the brother-in-law is a liberal democrat. Perhaps he didn’t want to defend that broader position (who can blame him?) but whatever the reason he ended up with egg on his face.
Unfortunately he’s not the only one that’s fallen into this trap. Republicans have a history of setting themselves up for a smack down by relying on arguments that really have little or nothing to do with their position. When Barack Obama ran for POTUS in 2008, for instance, I knew immediately why I opposed him: he was a hardcore leftist and all that this implies. Isn’t that reason enough? In fact I was optimistic after he won the nomination because I saw it as a grave miscalculation by democrats. Regardless of how easily Americans are fooled most consider themselves to be conservative-leaning. We needed to steer the debate to a choice between liberalism (i.e., socialism, the nanny state, big government, weak national security) versus conservatism (i.e., free market economy, the Constitution, small government, self-reliance, national defense), and we would win. Of course we blew that right away by nominating someone who was unqualified to make the argument for conservatism. The next mistake was to oppose Obama on the basis of such things as “inexperience.” It blew up in republican’s faces when McCain chose Sarah Palin for a running mate and suddenly the sincerity of our concern over “experience” came into question. We became immersed in an unhelpful sideshow debate over who was better qualified, Palin or Obama.
The fact was, Obama’s inexperience was never the reason that republicans opposed him. An experienced leftist is every bit as bad as an inexperienced leftist, so it was a distractive argument from the get-go, and such arguments always come back to bite. ALWAYS. Framing the debate on experience in a battle between a republican and a hardcore democrat is like arguing over whether a Porsche is better than Yugo based on the performance of the windshield wipers. Okay I’ll grant you that McCain was no Porsche (he might be an Edsel…), but hopefully you still get my meaning. Furthermore the “inexperience” argument is likely to come back and haunt us when we consider our next nominee from a pool that may include men like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. There’s no doubt democrats will remind voters that experience was ostensibly important to republicans in 2008, and this will be a blow to our credibility.
Nowadays the talk is about Hillary. I don’t want Hillary to be POTUS. Is this because of the Benghazi disaster? No. Is it because of concerns about her health? No. Is it because she had no accomplishments as Secretary of State or because she sponsored no noteworthy bills as a U.S. Senator? Nope. I don’t want Hillary to be POTUS because she’s a leftist, and all that this implies. If Benghazi had never happened, Hillary would still be a leftist and I still would not want her as POTUS. Ditto for Whitewater and all the rest. The beauty of knowing why you’re against something or someone and then staying true to that argument is that it will never come back to bite you. If the Left manages to spin Benghazi or republicans blow the investigation and if Hillary’s doctor gives her a clean bill of health (he will), she will still be a leftist at the end of the day. She is Obama on Geritol, that fact will never change. That doesn’t mean Hillary’s record doesn’t matter, in fact it’s all related in the end. But the primary case against Hillary is the mental disease of liberalism, in this writer’s humble opinion. Everything else is icing on that cake.