Conservatives are blowing it

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It’s a safe bet that most conservative Republicans would rush to support a political leader with the following record, especially in a traditionally Democratic state:

— Reversed a $2.2 billion deficit and brought it into balance without raising taxes, largely by reduced spending and eliminating wasteful and unaffordable programs, allowing for a projected fiscal 2014 budget surplus of $300 million.

— Bipartisan pension and benefits reforms, saving the state $120 billion over 30 years.

— Streamlining government by eliminating 5,200 government jobs.

— Vetoing tax increase bills three times while cutting taxes for job creators.

— Reforming the nation’s oldest teacher tenure law by making it conditional on teacher performance in the classroom.

— Reduced property tax increases to a 21-year low and capped them at a maximum 2 percent.

There’s more, but shouldn’t conservative Republicans be ecstatic by this record compiled by New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie?

Not the folks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which decided not to invite one of the party’s superstars to its annual gathering in Washington.

Apparently, the reason had to do with Christie upsetting conservative orthodoxy by saying something nice about President Obama for approving emergency aid to distressed New Jerseyans affected by Super Storm Sandy.

I’m all for orthodoxy, which some call principle. I am orthodox in many things, but in politics compromise in the pursuit of ultimate goals does not necessarily make one a compromiser.

Gov. Chris Christie is no liberal. He is proving his ideas work, which is why, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, he has a 74 percent approval rating in one of the bluest states in the country.

Most politicians would, as they say, “kill” for a number like that, but instead CPAC organizers “killed” Christie from their list of speakers.

Conservative Republicans have a unique opportunity to present a positive, forward-looking and reform-minded agenda at a time when most voters’ approval of government is scraping rock bottom. Americans are aware of the current dysfunction in Washington and may be ready for a creative message if Republicans could show them how a 21st-century model would mutually benefit themselves and the nation.

Former George W. Bush aide Peter Wehner offers some suggestions in a Commentary magazine essay:

“First, Republicans should make front-and-center their plans to reform public institutions that were designed for the needs of the mid-20th century. Our healthcare and entitlement system, tax code, schools, immigration policies and regulatory regime are outdated, breaking down, and creating substantial wreckage. If I had to boil it down to a single sentence, I’d urge the GOP to develop its reputation as the party of reform and modernization.

“Second, Republican leaders at every level need to conduct themselves in a manner that not just reassures voters but appeals to them. As former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has put it, ‘as we ask Americans to join us on such a boldly different course, it would help if they liked us, just a bit.’ ...

“Third, Republicans must resist the temptation of defeatism, enervation, and turning against the country. It is entirely within the power of the GOP to both remain principled and appeal to a majority of Americans. An intellectually self-confident party would, in fact, be energized by a challenge of this scale.”

Read this line again: “It is entirely within the power of the GOP to both remain principled and appeal to a majority of Americans.”

A bold agenda that does these things reflects Gov. Christie’s record in New Jersey. By not inviting him to speak, CPAC invites comparison with a pessimistic and hypercritical political environment of the past. If the Republican “tent” isn’t large enough for Chris Christie, then it will resemble a pup tent for some time to come.

Republicans should be focused on deconstructing failed liberalism and styling their alternative in positive terms, not rejecting one of their own.

Hating President Obama is not a policy. Intellectually defeating his policies is.

[Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated op-ed columnist, appearing in more than 600 national newspapers. He is the author of more than 10 books and is a FOX News political contributor since 1997. Email Cal Thomas at tmseditors@tribune.com.] ©2013 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

S. Lindsey
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Then is should stay a pup tent...
Cal Thomas wrote:

A bold agenda that does these things reflects Gov. Christie’s record in New Jersey. By not inviting him to speak, CPAC invites comparison with a pessimistic and hypercritical political environment of the past. If the Republican “tent” isn’t large enough for Chris Christie, then it will resemble a pup tent for some time to come.

No..No..No and no a hundred more times. If by being a "Big Tent" you mean to compromise principles just to win elections...

If by a "Big Tent" you mean we have to allow the "McCains and Grahams" run the Party..

If by a "Big Tent" we continue to allow the Establishment Blue Bloods continue to choose Progressive Moderates as candidates.

Nope Rand Paul taught all of you what standing on principles looks like and face it you are running scared.. You should be.. Because the Libertarian Party combined with real Teaparty Conservatives might not win alot of elections but we sure can weed out the RINOS of the Party... including the old guard like you Cal.

JeffC
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Rand Paul's principles?

Rand Paul wasn't teaching what standing on principle looks like. He was showing us what paranoid delusions look like. He wasn't filibustering against drone attacks because he supports them. He narrowed his question down to whether the administration had the right to use drones to kill American citizens within the United States.

And Holder said no. Duh...

Not that I didn't enjoy the filibuster. I did. It's just that it only made sense if you were living in some kind of wacky right-wing conspiracy world wherein President Obama sitting in the Situation Room with the Pentagon's version of World of Warcraft, flying a Predator drone and shooting Hellfire missiles at citizens while they're sipping lattes at a sidewalk cafe seems something to be rationally concerned about.

Anyway, kudos to Rand Paul! He got us the answer to the Predator question and deserves at least as much credit as was due Donald Trump for his settling the birth certificate question.

NUK_1
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Yeah, Eric Holder has a single shred of credibility whatsoever

The guy is a pathological liar and also had to backtrack pretty quickly from his drone statements, as usual for anything he has to say and then later refute.

It's hardly some "right wing conspiracy" when you have people with zero integrity in very high profile positions that can't figure out which lie to tell the next day or which position to reverse because it became politically not viable suddenly.

Holder is a disgrace, but he's a good bucket-carrier for the Obama administration.

PTC Observer
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JeffC - Fair question

A fair question, since it wasn't specifically addressed by either the Bush or Obama administrations.

"When is it OK for the American government to kill an American citizen with a drone on American soil?"

This question came up as a result of the administration's assertion that using drones against terrorists on American soil was appropriate. Since the administration has already used these weapons against Americans on foreign soil, I think it neither paranoid or delusional to ask the question. The fact that there was reluctance to answer the question speaks loads about the reason for the depth of distrust in this particular administration's competence.

No one, including Mr. Holder or Mr. Obama seemed willing to answer this question before Senator Paul took to the floor.

There no duh moment when you are dealing with administrative power that makes things up as they go and views the Constitution as a hindrance to its "vision".

S. Lindsey
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Yeah Jeff Holder said NO....

...only after Rand forced the issue so.... But I guess you are ok with warrantless wiretaps, drones and kill list.. now right? I mean it is a Democrat doing all this now so.....

John Mrosek
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JeffC, I have to agree with

JeffC, I have to agree with SLindsey--- Rand Paul raised a question that the Attorney General would not initially answer. That question was "Would you use drones to kill on American soil ?". It was not until about 10 hours after Rand Paul CONCLUDED his filibuster that Mr. Holder answered, unequivocally, "NO". Those are simple facts. Rand Paul attracted a wide range of support from conservatives and some liberals. America has to frequently look at the Constitution, look at today and see how it applies. That's all he was doing and it was a very useful experience.

Joe Kawfi
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Lindsey

What would a Carter know about principles? I'm surprised you even bother to engage the son of the man who praises the former dictator Hugo Chavez - the man who kept the people of Venezuela in poverty while he and his brothers took billions out of the coffers. While Venezuelan's in the U.S. that escaped the Chavez gulag are dancing in the streets, ol' Jimmah mourns him. Jimmy never met a dictator he didn't like.

S. Lindsey
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Joe...Oh Jeff has principles...

...just those not like you or I. Progressives principles are in some ways just like ours...BUT.... the biggest difference is they involve Government where you and I involve personal responsibility for our own upkeep. Progressives as a whole believe Government is needed to regulate business, ride roughshod over Corporations but yet protect us from ourselves.

What they don't realize is that their interference using Government to regulate to death business only hurts the very people their good intention actions are supposed to help.

Just like the Oil and Gas industry.. they want to kill Coal but yet over 60% of our Power is generated by Coal.. so forcing these industries to switch almost overnight with little or no transition AND the forcing is done at their own expense then like Obama said... "Energy rates would necessarily skyrocket" again hurting the very people they claim to want to help..

Joe...Progressives have good intentions..just remember the road to Hell is paved with them..