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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Rotten Plank

I’m sure this piece may raise a few eyebrows with some of my more traditional friends out there on Republican Island. Read in the proper context, I expect that many of you might take it to heart and get the message, while others will leave here, red-faced, angry, and in search of an even larger hammer in which to nail that square peg into the round hole.

For years I’ve avoided writing about the abortion issue because it’s without a doubt the single most divisive issue within our fragile Party. The mere mention of it almost always results in bad feelings, and internal squabbles which seem to escalate to the point where it begins to tear the very fabric of our core – as it has for at least the last two decades. I going to put aside my own personal opinion about the subject with the hopes of addressing the larger implications the issue has had on our State Republican Party. And moreover, the impact it’s had on our ability to appeal to moderate Republicans, and Independents whom we desperately need if we plan to ever have a chance of winning key Congressional racess. Later on, I’m going to point out what I see as a bit of hypocrisy within our own CTGOP ranks which is burning a gaping hole through this so-called Move to Unity that everyone seems to be going on about. I’m going to call a spade a spade, and I can understand that some of you won’t like that very much.

Jack Kemp (NY-R) understood the value of coalitions
for the purpose of winning elections

Years ago, one of my personal heroes - Jack Kemp (R-NY) used to talk about the “Big Tent” that the GOP needed to construct in order to attract a diverse group of supporters to help us win federal elections. Kemp was a self- proclaimed compassionate conservative, who advocated several non-traditional Republican solutions including enterprise zones, and going into cities to extend GOP appeal to what the country-Club crowd considered mere undesirables. Kemp was also a Pro-Life advocate. While I concede that he never compromised his position, I’ll also point out that as a former Quarterback and a visionary, he understood the value of knowing his audience, so instead of sparking disunity with angry polarizing all or nothing rhetoric – he sought ways to build consensus – never losing sight of main goal which was of course - winning elections. Like his mentor Ronald Reagan, and having spent so many years fighting from a minority position under a Democrat controlled Congress, Kemp understood the value of coalitions, and plurality. A concept considered foreign to many within our GOP ranks.

You’ll recall through media reports that a few weeks ago at the National Republican Convention, several of our GOP delegates voted against including the Pro-Life plank in the Republican Party Platform. This sparked a wild protest from many who are a part of the Amen-corner of our State Party ranks. Our Chairman, Jerry Labriola, Jr., a pro-lifer, took unyielding criticism for allowing delegates to vote their conscience, or better put – for not stacking the deck with pro-life delegates, or strong-arming or intimidating delegates into voting against their respective positions. Labriola was correct to not bow down to the minority holier-than-thou crowd (or manipulate the process as previous Chairmen might have done). Had that been the case, one could only imagine the mileage the press would have gotten out of that story.

The extreme right went ballastic when CTGOP Chairman Labriola
didn't twist arms and break heads to support the Pro-Life Plank of the Platform

Much of the outrage back home came from confused individuals who see moral issues as the primary agenda for the Republican Party, and could frankly careless about economics, or jobs, or anything else. Over the years, I’ve had a hard time relating to the extreme far-right of our Party because I find that no matter how hard you try, you can’t reason with a group of rabid raccoons who become unhinged with spiraling eyes, and foaming mouths when it comes to certain positions. For all the important issues that the Republican Party stands – free markets, capitalism, strong foreign policy, interventionism, low taxes, individual responsibility, less government, etc. - You have to really question the conviction of someone who turns to you and says, “If it wasn’t for the Pro-Life plank in our Platform – I wouldn’t be a Republican.” Really? If that’s how you feel, then it doesn’t seem like you’re a Republican anyway. Could one be so shallow a person that s/he’d be just as happy with ObamaCare, high taxes, and a run-away debt as long as Abortion is outlawed? Here’s The King’s challenge - ask this crowd that very question the next time they utter a narrow-minded threat to bolt the Party if they don’t get their way.

Now I recognize that after last week’s clear attempt by Democrats to exclude God from their party platform that it certainly appears that Republicans seem to have cornered the market on God. Even wishy-washy Episcopalians and hippy-loving Congregationalists can see that! Frankly, I was amazed at how blatant Democrats were in their opposition to including God to the point where their leadership struggled to override (and ignore) the consensus of their represented constituency present. Without question the whole scene was certainly a C-SPAN moment for the ages. Surely, this imagery is one that Democrats will work tooth and nail to erase in the minds of Southern Black Christians who helped Obama win in 2008, and who he desperately needs to win in November. Republicans would do well to air commercial after commercials of Democrat delegates coming out of their chairs screaming their heads off to kick God out of their Convention. Whatever your religious preference, it’s pretty apparent that if God isn’t welcome, Jesus probably isn’t either. That’s ok – over in our imperfect world we’ve got plenty of room for converts.

What it all boils down to is that I’m trying to convince a few zealots in my Party is that being Pro-Life isn’t a litmus test for being either a real Christian, or an Orthodox Jew or Muslim for that matter, or for being a Republican. Nor is it a litmus test for being a decent human being. And as for as this writer is concerned – it’s not a litmus test for being our Party’s nominee at any level either.

It’s not often that within a few hours of my attending any social gathering that antagonists will seek to bait me into a political discussion. When I walk through the door, I can see them from afar - liberals gathered in a corner, peering over at me, smirking and scheming up ways ambush me at the dessert table in order to push my buttons. Even 10 on 1, I can usually hold my own against the most obnoxious gang of bedeviled Marxists - on most issues – and after all else fails when they see their in a losing battle, they almost always pull out the abortion card. They never use it for the purpose of winning the debate at large – that never works – they use it to expand sympathy to their cause from those observing us – mostly women - who tend to be more liberal on social issues.

It’s a no brainer to most of us that the abortion issue is a disastrous issue for Republicans – particularly Connecticut Republicans. Even my mainstream Catholic friends won’t touch the subject with a ten foot pole when pressed into service – and that’s because most of them are Pro-Abortion or Pro-Choice (take your pick). Oh, of course some of them will come up to me afterward and pat me on the back, but they won’t stick their necks out publicly. And again as for the women in the crowd – well you can forget it!

Last week, and taking a page out of the liberal playbook, Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention which invoked the usual Democrat themes – class warfare; hate of the rich, environment extremism, and of course – abortion. Malloy cleverly used the mother-daughter-wife theme to frighten viewers into delivering Barack Obama a second term. Sadly, this fear mongering resonates well with neutrals and the apolitical. And it’s hard to counter Malloy’s argument when GOP representatives go out of their way to include it as a plank in the Party Platform – a rotten plank at that.

"Republicans kill the elderly and eat small children. I've seen it myself!"

Women aren’t going to budge from the age old argument that they don’t need to surrender their reproductive rights to some guy in a polo shirt. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve been told by women that they’d be inclined to vote Republican if it weren’t for the Abortion issue. And including it as a plank in the GOP Party Platform does us no favors – trust me. I’ve been through it a number of times. Ladies can agree with me on 99% of our positions, but when it comes to this one matter – they can’t stomach looking the other way. Not even for an instant. Not even for a single vote.

By now I’m sure some of you in the Pro-Life movement are reading this piece and turning beat read. Well, I got news for you. I can’t lie about the perception this issue has on our Party, and I can’t be deceitful about its impact. And I’m to the point where every time I see a Republican Candidate banter on and on about how important this issue is, or make the claim that it’s the most important issue - I see the imagery of a reverse debt-calculator subtracting votes from the GOP , and into the Democrats’ vote column.

To be clear, what I’m not saying is that our pro-life Conservatives need to abandon their viewpoint on Abortion, or modify their position. But what I am saying is that as long as you’re going to make this issue the center-point of your argument for whether or not you will support a candidate, or attack one of OUR Republican candidates running for office, then you are going to continue to aid and abed the enemy camp right up and through every election. You guys chase away more votes in five minutes with this religious demagoguery than the rest of us can muster in a week’s worth of door to door canvasing. Remember this next time you hem and haw about this issue in public, or issue ultimatums and threats. Remember how many Republican and moderate votes you just hand-delivered to Democrats. Sadly, a percentage of that group would rather have a moderate Republican lose so that a Conservative can possibly win next time. Indeed, we are our own worst enemy.

Listen, according to statistics there are somewhere between 23 and 25 million unemployed Americans out there (perhaps more if you include those who’ve just given up looking or applying for jobs or benefits). None of them are standing in a bread line worried about whether or not Sally Sue down the road should be allowed to have an Abortion. Most of them are worried about trying to put food on their tables for their families and themselves. They are worried about making the rent payment or mortgage payment, and they aren’t trying to weigh the importance of a great spiritual war going on in the Heavens or around us. I know it’s hard to make pragmatists out of extremists and zealots. But for the sake of our Party, can you please keep the religious pontification to yourselves? The rest of us are trying to win an election. Later on, after we take care of the basics, we can try to turn this nation into the world land of clouds and harps.

I have one more tale that I need to impart to you. I swear - this is a true story.

Back on Election Day in November 2008, my friend and I came upon a mutual acquaintance who told us that she was not planning to vote in the election. We imagined her to be somewhat conservative based on the many discussions we had with her over the years. After scolding her for a good thirty minutes about the need to do her civic duty, we convinced her to let us drive her to city hall so she could register on the spot and vote – presumably for John McCain. At that point, she said she was undecided on exactly who she would support. On the car ride, and while waiting in the endless winding line in the hallway, my friend and I ran the gambit on the issues – foreign policy, taxation, on and on; we thought we had done our work, covering the many reasons that electing McCain was the best choice for her and for the country.

Five feet from the room, she turns to us and says, “Ok quick… tell me the MOST important reason I should vote for John McCain.” For a moment I was filled with glee. Oh this is so easy I said to myself! I thought I’d make the tax pitch and deliver the vote for my side! But before I could get out the words, my friend turned around toward her and went into this three minute tirade about how Obama and Democrats want to kill babies, and stock the Supreme Court with Abortionists, and that the Pro-Life position was the single most important matter in the world, and on and on. My heart sank. The blood drained from my face, and I looked down at the ground in disgust. Her eyes squinted, her jaw tightened, and her fists became clenched - she turned her back on us and approached the registration table. I whispered to my friend, “You idiot! Of all the things to say! She’s Pro-Choice!” All he could muster was, “Oh.” He tried to come back with a few other items but the damage had been done.

After 40 minutes of brilliant discussion (not that it would have mattered) – Poof! My friend’s zealotry had pushed her to support Barack Obama for President. I don’t know whether I was more annoyed for the rest of the night about the land-slide victory achieved by Obama, or because my friend had spoiled a sure thing.

Again, this is a true story. It still irks me to this day. There are times when you can be so right, but at the same time – be so wrong.

Taking Issue with the FIC

I expect this part of my entry could ruffle some feathers. Now to start, I have to say that I love my friends at the Family Institute of Connecticut. I admire the work they do as activists in support of many fine and noble conservative and mainstream causes on behalf of Connecticut families. I admire that their leader, Peter Wolfgang, who leads by example by walking the walk to the point where it causes his distractors and enemies to spit flame and yellow bile. I don’t have to be in lockstep with the FIC to appreciate its dedication to conservative action.

"Sorry, Manfred - no jobs today, but enjoy your cold porridge courtesy of the FIC." 

But I have to say that I’m slightly disappointed in the way the leadership at the FIC is currently handling the Andrew Roraback situation. During the primary, The King took Senator Roraback to the shed for many of his left-leaning positions. But that battle is now over, and Senator Andrew Roraback is our duly elected nominee in Congressional District 5. I have to say I was quite perplexed at the haste in which Peter Wolfgang came out to endorse Linda McMahon (via Twitter to the CTpolitics community) – who, for all intents and purposes harbors nearly the exact social positions as Andrew Roraback – on abortion, on gay rights, and on a number of social issues. My goal isn’t to demean either Andrew Roraback or Linda McMahon (God, knows that I’ve taken issue with Mrs. McMahon) but to point out the incredible hypocrisy the FIC has shown by endorsing one candidate, and holding out against another when their social positions are virtually the same.

Now I’m not saying the FIC is expected to be front group for the CTGOP, and defend all its positions and candidates. What I am saying is that the lack of consistency on the part of the FIC is more than notable – and moreover, it’s hurtful in the grand scheme of things for them to engineer open dissent against an elected nominee of the Party - which by the way – encompasses the majority of supporters and donors of which the FIC is a mutual benefactor. Obviously, it’s true that Andrew Roraback has a voting record to scrutinize where Linda McMahon has none – that’s not a dig on Linda, that’s simply the case in fact. But honestly said, you’d be hard pressed to show where Linda would have voted differently than Andrew Roraback on many of the same bills had she held a similar public office.

But for consistency purposes, it’s The King’s View that it would have been better for Peter Wolfgang and his comrades to have remained silent and not endorsed either based on both candidates’ social ideology, instead of endorsing one over the other publicly when no reasonable difference between them can be found. Splitting hairs to support this thinking won’t accomplish much except to further fracture the fragile coalition within our ranks. We are hoping (and praying) that the endorsement of one candidate instead of the other wasn’t driven by undue influence of any kind – for that would be unscrupulous, indeed.

The King hereby calls on the Family Institute of Connecticut and its leadership to reinstitute fairness in their endorsement practices, and make the Call to Unity the promise from which all right-learning (and imperfect) candidates can equally benefit from.

As the primaries are over, and given the alternative, playing the hold out game for a pointless power-play isn’t in the best interest of everyone involved. If conservatives want moderate support at ballot time, moderates will expect conservatives to follow suit. If this concept is too hard to comprehend, think of Jack Kemp, or better yet remember the Reagan Coalition which led Republicans to successive victories in the early 80s, and delivered a decade of properity across our Nation.



This original blog entry can be found at

Disclaimer: This entry and others will be modified/updated at a future date. All entries are for the sole purpose of entertainment. This article does not imply endorsement of the candidate mentioned above, nor has this article been solicited for publication by any political candidate, campaign, or PAC.