Last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference was another step on the road to defeat for this year’s eventual Republican presidential nominee. Pandering to the far right in the Republican Party as exemplified by the speeches given at CPAC will only move independents more solidly into the Democratic fold.
The nation is focused on the economy and creating jobs. Congress, which can’t get its act together to move forward on a real jobs program, has reached a new low with only 10 percent of voters believing they are doing a good job. We will again have an election where Bill Clinton’s mantra, “It’s the economy stupid” will be the issue on which most voters decide who shall be our next president.
Although things still aren’t great for many Americans, the economy is slowly improving and jobs are being created. This election won’t be decided based on the actual unemployment percentages but on the trend and how confident the American people are that the trend toward an invigorated economy will continue. All indications now are that this favors a second term for Barack Obama. I have assumed that Obama will have a hard time winning this election but Republicans can blow their opportunity, and judging by the spectacle at CPAC they are doing their best to do just that.
The fight over contraception is only the latest issue for those who want to blur the separation of church and state in favor of church doctrine being imposed on everyone. The majority of Catholics use contraception and the people are clearly in favor of civil law being fairly administered especially when they understand that it is not encroaching on religious freedom. When the Republicans make this about contraception, not religion, which Santorum is leading the way on, they will lose big.
Rick Santorum standing in a church in Texas with the minister intoning and laying on hands is not how most Americans see their president. When Mitt Romney vociferously comes out against the court decision declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional, voters can rightfully ask, “And what will your position on LGBT rights be tomorrow?”
When politicians couch everything they do in terms of “God told me to do it” or “my beliefs direct my policy” we should all be very wary. God apparently speaks differently to each of us. He/she respects that we have differences even if some of his/her followers don’t. When Newt Gingrich stands before CPAC and speaks boldly about being pro-family, but advocates for policies that are anti-woman, anti-poor, anti-LGBT and tries to portray himself as the next Ronald Reagan, you have to laugh. He speaks to this ultra-conservative group as a disgraced politician, thrice married adulterer and they applaud. Watching him and his attentive current wife Callista, you’re reminded of what Maureen Dowd recently wrote in the New York Times, “Remember anytime a mistress marries her lover it creates a job opening.”
The highlights of the candidates’ speeches to CPAC included Santorum saying “our rights don’t come from government; they come from a much higher authority” and promising, “We will surround ourselves and this administration with people who share our values.” Romney, in the midst of a host of platitudes about flag and country, said, “I prevented Massachusetts from becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage and I will defend DOMA, and fight for a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman when I am president.”
These statements alone need to remind us that the next president may get to appoint two Supreme Court justices. The result of CPAC is that each of the candidates has made it more difficult for Republicans to meet their goal of making Obama a one-term president.
Even some supporters who see Obama as a flawed president see him as a good man. They give him high marks for keeping the nation safe and for his foreign policy. They appreciate that he is keeping his commitment to bringing our troops home and to ending the two wars he inherited from George Bush. Now they also see the beginning of an economic rebound and are realizing that his economic policies are having a positive impact on their lives and the lives of their families. From the bail out of the auto industry to the stimulus program that kept teachers and police on the job, things are slowly getting better and consumer confidence is again rising, which will lead to Obama’s re-election.