VA House of Delegates Gives Me a Headache

The House wants to change the rules of the GOP Primary to allow write-ins, due to the fact that only two of the candidates were willing to put in the work required to get on the ballot: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/virginia-politics/post/house-passes-bills-to-allow-primary-write-ins-change-primary-date/2012/02/02/gIQAlgu4kQ_blog.html  Whether this move has been orchestrated by the Gingrich campaign or not, I don’t care; it remains preposterous. Not only does the legislature have no business interfering in the state GOP’s nominating process, to do so at the last minute smacks of bias and impropriety. I’ll be investigating whether my own delegate was involved, and if so, then I’ll be voting for someone else in the next election.
I sent a letter to Governor McDonnell through his website: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/  I advise each of you who cares about the integrity of the process to do the same, regardless of who you support in the primary (or the general, for that matter).
Re: Emergency Change to GOP Primary
The House of Delegates seeks to change the rules at the last minute. I’m sure you know the story, the backstory, and all the gory details. Governor, I have been a supporter of yours from the beginning, and no one has as much respect for you as I do. I was a “Blogger for McDonnell” during your campaign, and I was pleased with your recent endorsement of Mitt Romney for President. I’m sure you want to avoid the appearance of impropriety, but I want you to veto this rule change if it should pass the House and Senate. It’s abominable, it’s inexcusable, and it’s blatantly partisan. Moreover, the legislature has no business changing the state party’s rules for it. As Governor of Virginia and RGA Chairman, it is your duty to prevent this measure from going into effect, no matter who you’ve endorsed. Thank you for your time, sir.
Sincerely,

Stephen Monteith

(This post originally appeared on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/notes/stephen-mark-monteith/va-house-of-delegates-gives-me-a-headache/10150633978946083 )

Apparently, it didn’t matter …

… that Mitt Romney won both New Hampshire and Florida with larger totals and larger percentages than the 2008 winner; or that he finished second in South Carolina, a state where he was expected to bomb, with more votes than 2008’s winner; or that his win in Florida was not just in total number of votes, but also among nearly every demographic; or that he’s been endorsed by Tea Party groups and activists in multiple states, as well as numerous conservative pundits and public servants.  Some people still are making the ludicrous claim that he lacks broad appeal.  There’s a fallacy in thinking just because someone doesn’t break 50% in a contest, especially if it’s not a two-person race, it’s evidence he’s an unpopular figure.

… that Rick Santorum has stayed in the primary.  Despite Newt Gingrich’s assertion that conservatives can’t coalesce behind a “Not Romney” candidate if there are multiple alternatives, it didn’t make a difference in either South Carolina (where Gingrich won) or in Florida (where both Gingrich’s and Santorum’s totals combined still fell a good 18,000 votes short of Romney’s total).  There’s a fallacy in thinking someone’s failure to capture a particular group of voters, such as conservatives, is due to the presence of another candidate who also appeals to that group of voters; sometimes, it’s because they’re just not popular enough.

… that Romney “went negative”.  Despite the fact that Gingrich had already gone negative in South Carolina and won as a result, quite a few people tried to “warn” Romney (through various media outlets) that he would lose Florida, or perhaps even the general election, if he went negative.  And yet, Romney won with an overwhelming margin.  Also, for months now, the knock against Romney was that he was perceived as not aggressive enough, that he wouldn’t be able to stand up to Barack Obama.  But as soon as Romney fights Gingrich’s fire with his own fire, his critics call it negative.  Even if there is a difference between aggressive and negative campaigning and even if Romney did cross that line, there’s a fallacy in thinking this will somehow hurt him in the general election when it has served both him and Gingrich so well in the primaries.

… that Sarah Palin and Herman Cain both endorsed Gingrich.  Romney, as I mentioned before, had his share of conservative endorsements as well, though none are quite as … recognizable as Palin is.  I, personally, agree that the process should continue.  The more victories he has over the rest of the field, the less room for doubt there will be in the minds of those who would dismiss his eventual nomination as unearned.  On the other hand, Palin’s endorsement of Gingrich, however unofficial it may be, has done more harm to her than it has done good to him.  Romney did just as good among self-described conservatives in Florida as Gingrich did, and he certainly did better among women, two constituencies among whom Sarah Palin’s endorsement should have helped Gingrich; but it didn’t.  As Romney’s loss in South Carolina demonstrated, there’s a fallacy in thinking a well-known conservative female governor’s endorsement will count for much among conservative female voters.

… that Gingrich won South Carolina.  In the ten days between that primary and Florida’s, Gingrich’s numbers in the latter state received the winner’s bounce and then dropped back to their previous level.  As we’ve seen throughout this election season, every candidate has a floor of support, some lower than others.  A phantom swell of support has been granted to each candidate in turn:  Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum.  Ron Paul and Romney, perhaps by virtue of their previous primary runs, were immune to the phantom bounce, which seems to be the product of a group of voters who latched on to unfamiliar candidates for exactly the amount of time it took to get to know them and then abandoned them.  Romney and Paul both rose in the polls as well, but they never fell because their rises weren’t artificial.  They both lost, technically, in Iowa and South Carolina, but they also improved on their previous runs (or at least didn’t do any worse).  Gingrich has now risen and fallen twice.  I suspect his second rise, in South Carolina, came at Santorum’s expense.  I also suspect he won’t have another.  Since Romney’s floor has always been higher than Gingrich’s, “phantom voters” won’t be enough in the future.  There’s a fallacy in thinking the nebulous popularity of one candidate will overcome the groundwork (and hard work) of another; especially when that other has already soundly outperformed the one in three out of four contests.

We’ve seen a lot of conventional wisdom countered in this race.  The hyperinflated number of debates has been derided by nearly everyone, and yet it has helped even the score among the candidates, to an extent.  Endorsements, both positive and negative, have proven less important than in previous years, perhaps because voters insist on making up their own minds moreso than before.  And though the two frontrunners, Romney and Gingrich, have both been endowed by the Vocal Minority with unearned labels (Gingrich the Outsider and Romney the Liberal), the voters have largely ignored those narratives.  But one thing hasn’t changed:  Organization matters.  Iowa showed us that relying on either retail, Internet, or organization produced approximately equal results among the top three finishers.  In later contests, the victory went to the master of all three.  It would be a fallacy to assume the same advantage won’t hold in the upcoming contests; especially the caucuses.

James O’Keefe Sues the New Jersey Star-Ledger for Defamation after New Hampshire Voter Fraud Exposé

PARAMUS, NEW JERSEY– On New Hampshire Primary Day, Project Veritas, while violating no laws, exposed the ease in which voter fraud can occur in states lacking voter identification requirements.

Project Veritas’ work has been praised New Hampshire’s legislative leaders, yet the reaction also includes articles by large media organizations that stated false and defamatory statements and articles.

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Ballot-Box Zombies

National Review’s Deroy Murdock covers Project Veritas’ latest investigation on Voter Fraud:

James O’Keefe — the conservative video journalist whose hidden-camera sting operation doomed ACORN — struck again during the New Hampshire primary. O’Keefe’s organization, Project Veritas, dispatched three videographers to the Granite State. On January 10, they visited precincts in Manchester and Nashua and asked poll workers, one by one, if their voter rolls bore the names of several deceased people. Believing that O’Keefe’s collaborators were those registered, the poll workers handed out 10 ballots, never once asking for photo ID.

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Who do you trust?

Newt Gingrich has suggested that Mitt Romney is running a “fundamentally dishonest campaign”.  That’s a pretty spicy accusation, especially when people’s trust in their leaders is at such a low point.  Gingrich prides himself on being a great speaker (no pun intended), so while “dishonest” may have been the intended operative word, his use of the word “fundamentally” is more interesting to me.  A fundamental is a basic part, an essential component, an underlying foundation of a larger entity.  In sports, the word “fundamentals” calls to mind the basic moves and strategies that support the overall gameplay.  In politics, having dishonesty as one of your fundamentals would seem to be quite a deficit.  Is it one of Romney’s fundamentals?  Is it not one of Gingrich’s?

You can’t separate your campaign from your personal life.  As much as people say being a president isn’t about your personal life but rather your policies, you cannot say that character doesn’t matter.  We have several candidates for the presidency, each claiming that another is being dishonest.  We can’t all meet these people individually, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell whether what we read about them online and see about them on TV is at all accurate.  So how do we know who is “fundamentally” trustworthy and who is “fundamentally” dishonest?

Well, we could go by the word of those who have met these candidates personally.  Endorsements, both positive and negative, have been pouring in for months now.  Many would like to ignore endorsements, or at least not lend them much weight.  On the other hand, endorsements do serve a purpose:  They are the word of those who, for the most part, have met these candidates, worked with them, and observed them in action without the filter of either the new or old media.  For the most part, Governor Romney has earned the lion’s share of positive endorsements from Congressmen, Senators, state representatives and officials, judges, ambassadors, and even a fair number of prominent Tea Party activists.  Nearly every Republican governor in the country who has made an endorsement has endorsed Romney, including the governors of South Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Idaho, Nebraska, and New Jersey.  This is important because governors have a unique perspective on the job and responsibility of “chief executive”, and they are virtually united in declaring Mitt Romney the best man for that particular job.

By contrast, Newt Gingrich has earned the negative endorsement of many Congressmen who served with him in public office.  They have said he was too erratic and undisciplined to effectively lead as Speaker of the House, and that he would similarly be a disaster as President of the United States.  They further warn that he is very likely to lose this election, and indeed would damage the chances of conservative candidates running down-ticket from him.  Some have chosen to read these warnings, many from the same people who practically drove Gingrich from his Speakership over a decade ago, as the desperate acts of the “establishment” to keep Gingrich from threatening their “status”.  On the hand, we’ve seen no similar backlash from any of Romney’s former associates, either in business, government, or while running the Olympics.  No ethics or corruption charges and no attempts to oust him, despite the fact that the world of business is (arguably) far more corrupt and cutthroat than the United States Congress.

But, even if you choose to ignore all the positive endorsements Romney has received and all the negative endorsements Gingrich has received, it is still possible to gauge, reasonably, who is the more “fundamentally” dishonest candidate.  Christians of all stripes, be they Mormon, Catholic, or Evangelical, should recognize the admonition found in the Sermon on the Mount:  “Ye shall know them by their fruits … A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Matthew 7:16, 18 KJV)  What have the fruits of these men’s lives been?

Mitt Romney has been accused of being a flip-flopper, someone who will change any position as long as it suits his ambitions.  My problem with that accusation has always been “Well, why hasn’t he left the LDS church, then?”  As a Mormon myself, I can tell you that being a Latter-day Saint is not conducive to having a large ego (which, incidentally, may also explain why Romney isn’t as “bombastic” as Gingrich on the campaign trail).  Certainly, Romney has had great success in his life, as have many other Mormons whom we can probably all name; but wouldn’t he have had a much easier time if he’d just cut the “anchor” that is Mormonism?  He might have actually won Iowa four years ago and been president already.

Romney has been a man of constancy.  Certainly his politics have trended more rightward (trended, not flipped) as his experience has deepened, but so did Ronald Reagan’s; and so did Newt Gingrich’s, for that matter.  Romney has been a member of the same church his entire life, been married to the same woman his entire adult life, never once been accused by a former associate or subordinate, in either the public or private sector, of inappropriate behavior, and since his conversion to conservatism while Governor of Massachusetts has not ceased to help conservative candidates get elected to offices in every state and at every level of government.

Compare that to Newt Gingrich who has been divorced twice because of adultery, changed religions, been rejected by his own caucus after only two terms as Speaker (and is still rejected by them), and recently claimed, rather bizarrely, that his transgressions are a strength because it means he’s more in touch with normal people.  Frankly, Mr. Speaker, I don’t want a “normal” person as president; I want an exceptional one.  While I’m in no position to cast any stones, I chose to place my trust in the good tree; because it has brought forth good fruit.