Friday, December 23, 2011

Mitt Romney For President

Mitt Romney represents the best chance for republicans to beat President Obama and because of that fact MC endorses him for the republican nomination. If you're not in politics to win, you shouldn't be in.

MC has heard all of the criticisms of Romney and isn't about to recite the litany here. Suffice it to say they are unpersuasive on balance. And that balance is a field of imperfect candidates. Has it ever been otherwise?

The stakes for the country could not be higher when it comes to defeating the worst President since James Buchanan. Hence the candidate with the best chance of defeating him is by definition the best candidate. Various problems with this policy position or that can be addressed once in office but MC thinks there will be far fewer of those than his critics anticipate.

And it's not that Romney can't be criticized--who cannot?--but that his critics fancy themselves to be good judges of things political. They criticize him while arguing that Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann are viable candidates in the general election. It's enough, as the late Christopher Hitchens would say, to make a cat laugh. (That was a depressing sentence to write.)

Conservatives believe they have longer memories than their friends on the other side of the aisle and MC certainly believes this to be the case. How odd, then, for them to forget that RINO's like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin were praising Romney as the conservative alternative to John McCain in 2008. Stay with that for awhile, please. National Review also endorsed him that year.

The puzzlement is that Romney has moved further to the right since that time. This cycle he's been endorsed by Ann Coulter and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. New Jersey governor Chris Christie has come out strongly for him.

The activist base, not Mitt Romney, has been the flip-flopper this year. From Bachmann to Perry to Cain to Gingrinch, all that can be said about them is MC thinks they'll finally come round to Romney. Add in a vice-president candidate like Marco Rubio and people tend to settle down a bit.

One important subject that has not gotten much attention is the Supreme Court and the next president's nominations to it. Romney has the esteemed Robert Bork as his chief adviser in the realm of judicial appointments. It simply doesn't get any better. People in Minnesota may have largely missed it but months ago there was a small Leftist effort born of angst and despair to pressure Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg into retiring so President Obama could appointment her replacement. This didn't happen, of course, and President Obama made two mediocre appointments that pleased no one but the box checkers of faux diversity. The concern on the Left should please those of us on the Right.

The energy from the republican side was never going to come from our candidate himself. The energy is almost wholly from its well warranted allergic reaction to a far left, incompetent, not-really-so-smart president. This will still be the case with Romney at the head of our ticket. In purple states like Minnesota, it could well help republicans keep one or both chambers in the legislature, a not unimportant but imperiled goal given the latest developments.

Romney will bring strong conservative principles into the contest with President Obama. He's clearly aware of the slimy campaign Mr. Hope & Change knows is his only chance not to be thrown out of office on his ear and is prepared to fight back vigorously. He knows what it takes to win. His strength on things economic will likely prove decisive. He will also, MC believes, govern in a strong and effective manner once elected. For these reasons and more, Mitt Romney should be our nominee.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

RPM: Crawling Out Of The Wreckage

Yesterday, December 16, 2011, was unlike any other day in recent Minnesota political history. One bombshell story after another fell upon the Republican Party of Minnesota in a manner that left everyone--left, right, center, media, bloggers, the Twitterverse--stunned and reeling. One could hardly keep up with the serial catastrophes that befell the party. Things got so bad that even avowed enemies of conservatism sent MC DM's of condolence. Even boxers stop punching after the other guy is down for the count.

The day before, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch abruptly resigned her leadership post and said she would not run for reelection to her seat. The insultingly usual bromides were given as the reason. She said she wanted to spend more time with her family. Eyes were promptly gouged out. But what could one do? The $64,000 question was why and no one had the answer. Or, at least at that point, was willing to say.

Welcome to yesterday. It started with a shock by news that the hapless Brandon Sawalich was preposterously arrested on charges of his vehicle's license tabs being expired at the Mpls/St. Paul Airport. The campaigner in chief did not yet have time to wade in with his usual intellectual shallowness and declare: "The police acted stupidly." There was no need: even Minnesotans could figure this one out on their own.

Eventually the charges against Sawalich were reduced, appropriately, from a gross misdemeanor to a petty one. Having announced con brio on the preceding Monday that he was the leader ready to take the Republican Party of Minnesota out of it financial doldrums, he folded under very weak adversity which he could not apparently outsource. The lack of any discernible leadership skills was disturbing. Not everything in life is handed to one, a lesson Sawalich seemed incapable of grasping. The real reason for weakness came soon enough.

The AP reported that he settled a sexual harassment claim brought by a subordinate in 2003. It further reported that Sawalich had not replied to its inquiries before he withdrew from the race for Chair of the RPM. MC is a friend and ally of Sawalich; twice it supported him for Chair of the RPM before, twice, he withdrew before truly beginning. It would seem that his heart is just not in it sufficient to the fight in which republicans find themselves. Political observers seem unanimous that his political career in Minnesota is now conclusively over. This does not mean, however, that he cannot bring high donors back to the party and MC urges him to do so. There are many ways to serve and the stakes are high. Elected leadership may now be beyond his grasp but Brandon Sawalich has no shortage of other avenues in which to lead. Here's hoping he does for his party needs him.

The Lynchian tale of being arrested for stale car tabs was quickly surpassed by news that Senate Majority leader Amy Koch had been confronted by her ersatz peers with allegations of indiscretions with an immediate subordinate on staff. She neither admitted nor denied the allegations and her resignation from leadership came shortly thereafter.

Later in the day it was announced that Michael Brodkorb (former deputy-chair of the RPM) was no longer employed by the Senate Caucus. By this time the party establishment, elected or otherwise, was reeling. Twitter burst into flames; text messaging reached overload proportions and people went from one urgent phone call to another. Scraps of information were passed around like cheap wine.

Then, as if to mock sanity, four lumbering senators, full to overflowing with themselves, held the Hindenburg of press conferences. Sens. David Hann, Geoff Michel, David Senjem and Chris Gerlach decided that a press conference of apparently endless proportions would be the best response to the unfolding calamities. Michel spoke and far too much. All the men sounded like Rush Limbaugh's new castrati and the local premiere female conservative radio talk show host Sue Jeffers acidly noted today the lack of inspiration, push-back or general strength. Instead it was all hang dog and maybe the press will not flay us overly much. Please like us!

In real time, however, activists on Twitter were losing their minds. The press conference was being tweeted by press and their tweets fell like lashes as inane and tone deaf comments were made by the eunuchs. Readers were treated to tweets like: "Michel confirms the staffer with whom Koch had improper relations was male." Well thank God for that, no need to fear a lesbian fling or beastiality. Small victories while the RPM was being bulldozed by these idiotic senators.

Before the Hindenburg presser was finished, however, word came that Sen. Parry, for whom Brodkorb worked as a volunteer, was going to have his own press conference shortly after the conclusion of the ongoing one. By now normally rational republicans found themselves barking mad. Commitment proceedings were avoided only because Sen. Parry himself canceled the unwise press conference.

Thus the day ended, leaving observers of all stripes on stun and exhausted. The press itself was exhausted simply from attempting to competently cover the amazing stories that broke in eight hours or so. GOP activists spoke of taking cabs and hoisting multiple glasses to the late Christopher Hitchens or having their own private melt downs at home.

Today has been quiet although MC was reduced to tears when receiving a phone call in the middle of Costco detailing the human cost of these events. There's nothing quite like crying in public, is there?

The way forward is straight forward. The wounded must be tended to, with simple basic human decency. The selection of the RPM Chair takes on even more importance although everyone seems to be looking for a magic bullet of a candidate. That candidate doesn't exist. Senate leadership has much to account for; misdirection won't work this time. Expect more on this in the near future.

Once the upcoming State Central Committee meeting on December 31st is behind it, the Party must focus on money, messaging, recruiting quality candidates and retaining the majorities it now has in both the House and the Senate. As everybody knows, however, the future is unwritten.

UPDATE: This post has been changed since first published to reflect the fact that Senator Robling was never present at the Hindenburg press conference but rather Senator David Senjem. So, uh, no women were present other than Koch when the men went to speak to her. Got it. Kind thanks to Paul Demko of Politics in Minnesota for pointing out the error.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Premiere: The Michael Brodkorb Interview

Introducing The Minnesota Conservatives Interview Series

This is the first in what will be an ongoing series of interviews with people MC finds interesting and important. The format is unlike any other MC is aware of and readers should know about it in order to appreciate what is trying to be accomplished here. Crucially, the MC interview series is not and will never be about "gotcha" journalism. There may be a place for that but it isn't here. The ground rules are simple and transparent. MC generates all the questions readers will see in the interview. The answers to those questions are written by the interviewee without any changes of any kind by MC. What they write is what is published. MC does no editing and does not consult or suggest changes to what is tendered. The challenge for MC is to draft interesting, engaging questions (with its readers in mind, obviously) while the goal for the interviewee is to be direct and substantive. With those premises and goals in hand, MC sought out Michael Brodkorb, the former deputy chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, for its first interview. Opportunity not only makes the thief; it also makes the blogger. Or can. So special thanks to him, then, for being the first to try out this new format. With luck, these interviews will be seen as adding value to the political discourse in Minnesota and will include those from other parties with decidedly non-republican views. With no fear of "gotcha," we might actually start listening to each other more. MC is under no illusion that such an interchange will alter people's views or policy positions; a greater understanding, however, as to why people hold the views they do is nonetheless a worthy endeavor. This includes, especially at this premiere of the interview series, those of us within the Republican Party of Minnesota.

MC: You made explosive comments yesterday to Tom Scheck from MPR at the State Central Committee meeting that have been the talk of Minnesota politics. Can you explain to readers your rationale for doing so, what you hoped to achieve and whether going public hurts the RPM instead of helping it?

The bulk of yesterday’s state central committee meeting was a discussion about party finances. As a former party officer who was actively involved in the 2010 elections, I believed a story needed to be told about how Tom Emmer’s campaign was run in the 60-90 days after the convention. It drained the party’s resources, terrified the major donor community from giving to both the party and the Emmer campaign and allowed an opportunity for republicans & independents to move to Tom Horner’s campaign.

I don’t believe most party activists realized how dire the situation was for the party. We couldn’t mention Emmer’s name in generic fundraising scripts for the call center. After the tip-credit debacle, candidates for statewide and legislative office didn’t want to campaign with Emmer. We also had a problem getting surrogates to defend Emmer, so it fell to then-Chairman Sutton and myself.

Just look at the polls: Survey USA released a poll immediately following the MN GOP State Convention and Emmer had an 8-point lead over Dayton. Survey USA released a poll in early August and Emmer was down to Dayton by 14-points – a 22-point swing. The messaging mistakes made by Tom Emmer in the months following the convention cost him the election.

Legislators and others who worked so hard to ensure Emmer was endorsed were suddenly unavailable to help defend Emmer from the attacks in the weeks after the convention. It was very disappointing. As a party officer, I was bound to be neutral during the endorsement process. But it seems in retrospect that some of the legislators that endorsed Emmer were more interested in preventing Marty Seifert from getting the endorsement than helping Emmer win the general election. Once Emmer was endorsed, some were nowhere to be found. It fell to Sutton and I to defend Emmer and we did it without question.

Imagine the impact we could have had on this state with a GOP governor and GOP-controlled legislature. We may have missed a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Now that it is a day or so later, do you regret either saying what you did or do you in fact wish you had added something, which, of course, this interview allows you to do?

I stand by my comments. My only regret is not speaking out sooner. If I had publicly spoken out earlier, maybe the 2nd campaign team to lead Emmer’s campaign could have come in sooner and had more time to rebuild the campaign.

MC was a Seifert supporter then an Emmer supporter (MC is not unaware of its detractors who say any criticism of the Emmer campaign while ongoing was defeatist; MC simply has to disagree). Do your comments open up an old wound that should have been allowed to be healed? Is MC simply the blog equivalent of Rodney King: can't we all get along?

Nobody is above criticisms in our party and in order to fix our problems we need to have a full discussion on the issues that impacted the party’s financial situation. Pawlenty was out-spent 2 or 3 to 1 in ’06 and was able to win. 2010 was the best year for republicans since Watergate and the party nominated likely the one republican who couldn’t win.

What are your thoughts about the Minnesota House & Senate remaining in the hands of the party of sanity next November?

Brodkorb: First, let me state that I have complete faith in deputy chair Kelly Fenton. She will be an outstanding deputy chair and, for the next few weeks, she will lead our party and this will build confidence. My hope is that the legislative caucuses will work with the new chair and deputy chair Fenton and we will be successful in ’12.

What do you think is the best approach to taking back the governorship?

It’s very simple: endorse a candidate that can win the general election. This also means that our endorsed candidate for governor surround him or her self with a professional and prepared campaign staff that is ready to hit the ground immediately following the convention with a strategy to win.

MC: Given Citizens United, as well as the deleterious effects of McCain-Feingold, what's your take on the future topography of politics in Minnesota? Are parties almost beside the point given the rise of 501(c)(3)'s and (c)(4)'s and would it make sense to move to a primary system instead of the insider's game of the current caucus system?

I support the caucus system and hope our party recovers and rebuilds. I will do everything I can to help make the party stronger. But there is no question that we are out-matched by outside groups and we need to build a similar coalition of groups.

You're currently working on the Parry campaign in Minnesota's CD 1 (Parry seeks the GOP endorsement to run against incumbent Tim Walz). Politically, that's a short one-year cycle. Here's a possibly unfair question: what do you want to do in the future?

I am a proud partisan Republican. I don’t need a big title; I’m just a simple republican activist. I’m going to work just as hard as I did as deputy chair to ensure the Republican Party of Minnesota is strong and that we win elections. I’m going to continue to be passionate about supporting our values and candidates. I’m not going anywhere. The fight still continues.

MC: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Michael.

UPDATE: Michael Brodkorb contacted MC to emphasize that the legislators who strongly and vocally supported Emmer for the endorsement were AWOL especially after the tip-credit debacle. MC: apparently they know who they are.